Petrofac News 1700X397
24 May 2018

Blog: Back to the shop floor

When was the last time someone issuing corporate standards and guidance for a site actually worked on a site? That’s the question that sparked Back To The Shop Floor, an HSSE initiative which sends corporate HSSE team members out to work on the sites they regulate.

The initiative aims to break down barriers between corporate HSSE and the workers on site, as well as help the HSSE team understand how corporate tools are being communicated and implemented. For example, are they using the same language as the person on the shop floor? Are they using the same terms, in the same way? The only way to really understand that is to be out there alongside the workers.

Two members of the team who took part share their diaries and insights following their site visits…

When I heard about the initiative, I thought this was tailor-made for me! It presented an opportunity for someone like me – who is office-based – to have first-hand experience of life on a project site. And I wanted to see how the Group Standards and Guidance documents that I facilitate and develop in the office are interpreted and implemented on site.

In the early Saudi mornings there is often a heavy fog. The HSE Manager has to check weather conditions and assess driving conditions, but fortunately I arrived on a clear day. I was taken aback by the sheer size and scale of the project which I saw. I would describe it, in its current state, as a giant forest of steel frameworks.

I’ve worked on writing HSE standards, but seeing activities in real time made me realise what I was writing about, regarding slopes and barriers for protecting excavations and so on. When you are actually on the ground, you realise okay, so that’s a five degree slope, and you can actually feel it, which is very helpful.

Once every month, prior to the monthly client site inspection, the entire project embarks on a general housekeeping exercise. Everyone on the project joins in, tidying and keeping the worksite clean. So, as the whole idea of Back To The Shop Floor is that we should work as part of the on-site team, yours truly was also involved and I did my bit!

There is no substitute for experiencing the heat of a site like this. It really hits you, as soon as your boots hit the ground! The Environment Coordinator took me around the rest shelters, where there is shade, seating and mist fans, and I was grateful for the specified supply of drinking water!

Advisors monitoring a pipeline lifting operation. We checked the lifting plan, the daily crane inspection check sheet, the colour coding of associated lifting equipment and the segregation of the lifting area. It reaffirmed for me something I had written about: the importance of the physical presence of the HSSE Advisor on the worksite.

Every Saturday there’s a project wide ToolBox Talk to all 7,000 workers. This one raised topics like slips and trips hazards caused by the high humidity. It’s all about communication; and when I was out with the team I saw that in terms of stakeholder management, too. You have to identify the stakeholders on your project, and the quickest way you can reach them when needed. It’s very important to maintain excellent communication.

I worked on this site for nearly all of 2016, so for the Back To The Shop Floor initiative I decided to go back and see what has changed in a year. I couldn’t believe that this was the same site I was on before. All I could say was “Wow!” New roads have been built, and a lot of deep excavations are going on. Last year you were able to walk around the site; now you can’t get around unless you’re in a vehicle. I felt like it was my first time there.

Last year they were just building the base of these fuel tanks and they were about seven feet tall. Now, as you can see, they’re massive! What I found smart from an HSSE perspective is that a wall is placed around each tank, just far enough to contain twice the volume of the tank, in case of a leak.

At the end of the day, you’ll see all the workers lined up at designated areas on the site, waiting for their buses to go back to their camps.

After working hours, when everyone is back at camp, a lot of the employees play basketball. And they really take it seriously! There are yearly competitions and tournaments, for trophies and for money. It’s about pride, and they do whatever it takes to win.

As I was roaming between different areas of the site, I was also performing one of our seven safety initiatives, the Petrofac Assurance Index (PAI) on Driving Safety. This verifies compliance with the Golden Rules of Safety. Any areas for improvement are tracked in a register and followed up for correction.

I have written about excavation, and we include pictures to show you what it is, but believe me, once you see an excavation in real life it is a completely different thing. You realise just how big and how deep an excavation can be, and how important the barriers and signs really are.

I loved the food in camp. There are three different cuisines daily – Indian, Filipino and Arabic – with a salad bar, all kinds of drinks, and even an ice cream machine! You’d never be disappointed with the variety of options you have.