Oil and gas workers know they work in one of the deadliest industries in the world. “The oil and gas field is risky. There’s a lot of hazards associated with that industry. You’ve got moving equipment, you’ve got gases, you’ve got different chemicals,” says Randon Williamson, the Environmental Health Safety Director at Windcreek offers turnkey solutions for the energy, municipal and manufacturing industries. Even getting treatment for onsite injuries can prove difficult as the nearest hospital could be over 2 hours away. In this landscape, workers are surrounded by constant risk. There are no small mistakes. Any mistake can quickly turn into a life or death situation. The workers at Windcreek understand this well and have made worker safety their top priority. The ultimate goal, according to Williamson, is to make sure that “everyone goes home every night to their families.”
The epitome of safety, as it appears to Williamson, is seeing an off duty Windcreek truck using chock blocks while parked at Walmart. To him, the act of using chock blocks off the clock exemplifies the power of the safety program and culture that Windcreek has created. It’s so pervasive that it even trickles down into each employees’ home life. “It’s not often that we get to see the direct impact of our safety policies in our workers’ private lives,” says Williamson. Yet there it was, the telltale sign of chock blocks.
Windcreek takes safety seriously, yet the focus is on making it an integrated, fun group effort. Williamson is quick to point out that it’s not just him or Cody Williamson, the Safety Manager at Windcreek, who are responsible for the success of the safety program. It’s the whole team. When asked what percentage of the company is directly involved in the safety effort, Cody replied “100 percent,” without skipping a beat. Jason Scallen, the Sales Manager at Windcreek, speaks of some of the individual teams developing games to keep everyone in check. “It’s basically an extension of accountability. You don’t put your chock blocks down, you owe a 12 pack of pop, but you don’t get to drink any of the pop. It gets kind of wicked out there sometimes.”
A successful near miss program
As a result of their safety systems, Windcreek had zero recordable injuries, or Loss Time Accidents, in 2015. A major player in the lack of injuries can be attributed to their Near Miss Program. According to Scallen, “A near miss as we define it is a safety conscious thought by an individual that prevented an incident or accident from occurring. Each employee is responsible for filling out near misses and ranking them.” The ranking choices range from a 1 which designates minor potential of an injury up to a 4 meaning the potential for injury is very high. “The ranking is all based on the sole inspection of the person who experience the near miss. Employees may rank the severity of a near miss based on their age or physical ability, etc. This means we have to treat each near miss with a different mindset,” says Williamson.
Though the near miss program is an industry standard, Windcreek chose to adopt it. Then, they adapted it to meet their unique needs. “It’s a way to promote safety across the company to get employees to think and look out for hazards before they happen. That way we can help eliminate the amount of minor incidents and accidents that occur,” says Williamson. The program was ramped up after an incident in the field when the elevators came loose while a crew was pulling a well. The pipe came crashing down. Fortunately, no one was injured or killed. No equipment was damaged either. A crew member filled out a report to document the incident. When leadership saw the report, they shut the company down to reexamine their safety systems. Since then, Windcreek has found ways not only to create and implement new safety systems but to integrate safety thinking into every level of their company.
No risk of injury is too great or small for Windcreek to address. During a municipal job hooking up sewage and water services, part of the job required workers to be in a ditch to connect the pipes. Windcreek recognized putting workers in the ditch was really dangerous, so they called on their innovation team. The team created a pipe handler that allowed the crew to finish the job outside the ditch. They all went home safely to their families that night.
Windcreek has set high goals with high rewards for 2016 – another year of no recordable injuries will result in the entire workforce getting 3 more days of vacation. With around 80 employees, the cost can add up quickly. It’s a testament of Windcreek’s commitment to safety. “If you have three extra days in the mountains with your family, you’re going to remember it. We’re trying to reiterate that every day they remember that family trip, they’ll think, ‘oh that’s because we had no loss times and I’m pretty proud of that,’” remarks Scallen.
Safety systems teach worker awareness
Other safety systems and trainings make Windcreek’s safety model comprehensive. Windcreek even vets the safety attitudes of potential hires during the interview process. If they don’t demonstrate that safety is high on their list, their chances of being hired are nil. Once employees are hired, they’ll go through an onboarding process during which they receive safety trainings and learn about safety processes. Following onboarding, new hires have a six-month mentorship to learn safety processes, indicated by wearing a green hard hat. Upon successful completion, mentees earn a white hard hat and they resume full responsibility for their assigned duties.
Another safety process involves a Job Safety Control Analysis (JSCA). This assessment takes place daily before the crew begins the job for the day. They outline and investigate the hazards and double check the equipment prior to operation.
Customers have been a big influence on Windcreek. Williamson says, “A lot of them hold big corporate trainings where we get a lot of what we need to work on new standards.” Windcreek also loads safety records into tracking systems that allow customers access to them. Acccording to Williamson, “Certain customers hold safety to a high enough standard that if you have a poor safety record, you won’t get mentioned. They won’t give you any work.”
Every worker is invested in the safety culture at Windcreek, so much so that their safety behavior continues to extend past their workday. Cody says, “You will see a Windcreek truck with chock blocks down at Walmart. That’s all because of the team effort spent trying to build the safety culture. No one can do it alone, but if we can all work together and have fun doing it, then we’ll be that much better off. That’s why you’ll see the chock blocks at Walmart. I think they bring it home with them. It’s not just safe at work. It’s safe at home too.”
For more information, contact Jason Scallen, Sales Manager/Marketing Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-622-1042.