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Safety comes first: ExxonMobil Guyana talks HSSE policy

Dated: July 22nd, 2019

With the emergence of the oil and gas industry in Guyana, there are a number of concerns such as management of the industry and its resources, local content, limiting the environmental impact and safety. Among these concerns, the issue of workers’ safety stands out, given that over 1100 Guyanese have already been employed, many of whom have very limited experience in the oil and gas industry.

It is with this in mind that ExxonMobil Guyana’s Production Manager, Mike Ryan, explained that the company has been placing great importance on workers’ safety and ensuring that employees understand all of their Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) policies and regulations and live up to the expectations.

Ryan recently delivered a presentation on HSSE at a public forum where he provided a closer insight into ExxonMobil’s operations as it relates to safety. The four pillars of HSSE, Ryan noted, are vitally important.

“At ExxonMobil, we integrate them. A lot of our systems support excellence in Health, Safety, Security and Environment. We consider them core values to the way we work, not just priorities but we think about them every day,” he stated.

He went on to say that the company’s safety journey is not yet complete, and that they continue to pursue the highest degree of safety practices.

“We have a vision of nobody gets hurt and it’s not just a vision. We work on it every day. It’s clearly an objective, we believe it’s achievable but we’re not there yet and that’s why I call it our safety journey,” he explained.

The beginning of the Journey

Speaking on the genesis of safety in oil and gas operations, the Production Manager shared that it stemmed from incidents that occurred in the early years of the industry.

“Early in our industry, there was an unacceptable number of people getting hurt and as we implemented regulations and standards and management systems, there was a marked improvement in the incident rate and that started coming down,” he told those gathered at a HSSE Conference held last week at the Guyana Marriott Hotel.
According to Ryan, “The unspoken norms that we try to implement at ExxonMobil is nobody gets hurt. It’s more than just words, it’s truly believing. It’s really knowing people and caring about people and if anybody gets hurt in any way, taking it very seriously and learning from it.”
“No business objective will be pursued at the sacrifice of safety,” he stressed.

Influencing Risk Tolerance

Great attention is also placed on detecting and influencing workers’ risk tolerance, the Production Manager divulged.

“We’re exposed to a hazard or risk and we need to ask ourselves; ‘how is our hazard identification? Do we see the risk?’ I think in most of our industries, we’re getting better at actually seeing the risk. At ExxonMobil, we’ve been doing hazard identification for quite some time. There are still some that we miss, that we have blind spots to but in most cases, we’re doing a good job,” he stated.
“So, I’m working at height, I recognize that there’s a potential for me to fall…do I understand that? Most times, in the work force that we have, people understand the potential of a fall,” he said.
“Do I take action? So, I see the hazard, I understand what the hazard is, but do I take action? Do I go and realise ‘Okay, I need to go get that fall protection equipment? I need to put it on. Or do I say, ‘No that’s not going to happen. It’s never happened to me before. I have never seen it happen to anybody. I’m going to take the risk. It’s an individual risk.’ And that’s where we need to make sure we educate our workforce to make sure that they do not have a higher risk tolerance than we expect them to. We expect them to follow rules and follow the regulations and our procedures….do not take risks,” he repeated.

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