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Competency and Stakeholder Engagement in the Oil and Gas Industry

Updated: Dec 16, 2023

I've noticed a significant investment in safety and compliance within organizations. A common question from management is about the return on this investment. This leads us to explore two critical areas: ensuring competency in safety tasks and involving stakeholders in health and safety matters.

Building Competency Beyond Training

Major accidents often point to a lack of competence as a contributing factor. Competency is more than just training; it's a blend of knowledge, skills, experience, and a commitment to perform tasks to set standards. The best organizations develop a competency management system (CMS), which is a structured approach to ensure and develop competent performance. Key features of an effective CMS include:

  1. Integrating safety critical tasks identified in risk assessments into work procedures.

  2. Documenting job descriptions with specific roles, responsibilities, and competency requirements.

  3. Establishing robust recruitment processes to verify qualifications and experience.

  4. Regularly evaluating the effectiveness of training and updating materials based on new developments or incident learnings.

  5. Implementing a process for verifying and periodically reassessing operator competency.

  6. Ensuring assessors are competent and managing substandard performance effectively.

  7. Linking the CMS to occupational health programs to ensure physical and mental fitness for tasks.

Engaging a Broad Range of Stakeholders

In the UK, legal duties emphasize employee consultation in health and safety. Yet, true stakeholder engagement goes beyond employees to include anyone with an interest in the business. Mature organizations recognize this and engage a range of stakeholders in their HSE management. This involves:

  1. Identifying relevant stakeholders (employees, contractors, neighbors, suppliers, customers) and understanding their specific health and safety concerns.

  2. Conducting a mapping exercise to assess the relevance of health and safety aspects for different stakeholders.

  3. Implementing a structured communication process with clear, tiered meeting structures for internal stakeholders.

Managing Risks with Operational Controls

Effective risk management is not about creating numerous procedures but about identifying what's truly necessary. BS OHSAS 18001:2007 suggests implementing operational controls where necessary to manage risks. The key is to ask, "What procedures do we really need?" Operational control plans can be a practical tool, offering a clear, simple format for outlining required actions, standards, and results recording.

For larger organizations, setting goal-based company-level standards that offer flexibility for individual sites to develop their procedures is effective. Moreover, procedures that utilize flowcharts, photographs, and pictograms are often more effective, especially in diverse language environments.

In the oil and gas industry, effective safety management hinges on developing real competency and engaging a broad spectrum of stakeholders. By focusing on these areas and adopting flexible, clear operational controls, organizations can enhance their safety culture and ensure a more meaningful return on their safety investments. Remember, effective safety management is about more than just compliance; it's about creating a culture of continuous improvement and stakeholder engagement.

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