Casualty numbers down sharply: Woodside

CASUALTIES among contractors employed by Woodside Petroleum have significantly reduced since the company introduced new HSE (health, safety and environment) guidelines into contracts in October 2004, according to general manager of health and safety David Lesslie.

Before the new workplace policy was implemented, contractors accounted for 95% of the company’s "fatality-potential accidents" and 85% of injuries. Now, Woodside said this rate has fallen to 74%, with injuries at 32%.

Previously, the rate of injuries among contractors had been 40% above Woodside’s normal staff rate, compared with 20% today.

Lesslie discussed the company’s approach to managing health and safety risks in contracts with delegates at the National Oil & Gas Safety conference in Perth last week.

“We’re aiming to get a consistent approach across the industry,” he said.

“For us, it’s about getting away from statistics and creating a positive HSE culture.”

Lesslie said Woodside has doubled its man hours in the past year. Fifty percent of these hours are expended overseas, with 80% of this total in contracts.

“In the Australian HSE context, I felt we were performing relatively well,” he said. “But that wasn’t the case overseas.”

One of the key changes included building a HSE-compliance framework into the tender process. Lesslie says Woodside now refrains from awarding a contract until a HSE management plan is finalised between the company and the contractor.

“It’s a pivotal document that ends up in the contract,” he said.

“Although there are some circumstances where you have to be pragmatic, especially when it comes to locking in rigs because of shortages.”

In addition, Woodside has been running a HSE in contracts training course for the past three years and encourages follow-up discussions.

Leadership was another “vital component” in the process, according to Lesslie. The company has set up a management incident review panel and encourages managers to conduct site visits.

“In a relatively short time, there’s no doubt our new approach has made improvements,” he said.

“An improved safety record will also have other flow-on effects, such as lower insurance premiums for companies.”

Woodside has not had a fatality in its operations for eight years.

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