Brownfields in safe hands

​​Educating contractors’ blue-collar employees about the importance of good process safety management (PSM) has been the focus of a new program at Karratha Gas Plant (KGP). 

The aim is to promote greater awareness of PSM and enhance collaboration and communications between operations and contractors. The Brownfields Blue Collar PSM program has been rolled out to about 500 people over the past 18 months, and reports suggest it has been a great success. “We’re seeing an increase in the quality of the conversations between the contractors and the operators, and the plant operators are telling us the contractors are more engaged,” says senior project engineer Steven Cripps. 

Construction and commissioning manager Willie Craig and service provider Jim Winter were two of the program’s instigators. Willie notes that many blue collar contractors have little experience of brownfields oil and gas. This raises the concern that their appreciation of process safety may not be as high as it is for personal safety. “When brownfields projects are at peak manning levels, we represent around 60% of the people who pass through the gates. Most of these are blue collar workers working on and around our equipment,” says Steven. 

“The consequence of a process safety event can be severe, so increasing the knowledge levels of our workforce makes them more aware of the environment they are working in.” So Willie devised a suitable PSM program with Jim Winter, a Woodside presenter, trainer and coach for 30 years. 

The team ran the first package of training for white collar employees and supervisors in 2016. They found that while supervisors were comfortable talking about personal safety, they were less so for process safety. Steven and Varun Mallavarapu worked with Jim to tailor the package so it could be effectively delivered to the blue collar workforce in 2017. This was tested in a pilot session before changes were made and the package finalised. 

Project manager Simon Whalley has delivered the training several times. “We really want everyone to understand more and more about what is around them when they are working and how their actions can affect us all,” he says. “Hearing that operations want them to ask questions and be their eyes and ears in the plant opens the opportunity to be one KGP team when it comes to PSM.” Stuart Bond, health and safety manager Burrup, says the training has been “a huge hit”, adding: “The key to its success has been the combination of classroom training supported by a field walk with operations. “This reinforces the importance of ‘keeping hydrocarbons in the pipes’ and ensures that everyone knows their role in PSM.” 

Ragan Stonier, brownfields general manager, says: “The training program was built on relevant stories, small groups for strong communication, and access to the right operator for knowledge transfer and experience. “Now, the focus needs to be on sustaining the knowledge by sharing positive stories on process safety awareness and training green hat (new) staff.” Jim says: “The evaluations from participants are the best for any course I’ve ever taught.” He points to feedback collected from participants, such as one supervisor who reports: “I have heard from numerous guys that this is the best training they have ever received.” “Don’t change a thing,” implored one participant. “The combination of classroom and Ops lead walk arounds is perfect.”

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