2015IADC, Regulation, and LegislationMarch/April

From the Chairman: To address human factors challenges, industry must commit to put people first

Ed Jacob, 2015 IADC Chairman
Ed Jacob, 2015 IADC Chairman

April 22, 2010, was a day that irrevocably changed our industry. The Macondo incident tragically highlighted areas in which we could, and should, have done better. Five years later, the lessons of that incident are still fresh. Of the many things we learned, it is that solving the problem of equipment failure is relatively straightforward; tackling the other contributing factor, human behavior, is far more complex.

For all of us, our behavior and motivation is influenced by a lifetime of observations and learning. Events such as Macondo have contributed to a growing awareness of the human contribution to catastrophic and process safety events. As such, human factors, the study of which has been undertaken to help other industries, has become a priority for the drilling industry, as well.

Human factors is defined as an examination of how humans interact with machines and other people to determine whether procedures and regulations take into account human abilities and limitations. So important is this topic that IADC has initiated a new event, the 2015 IADC Human Factors Conference & Exhibition, to provide a forum to discuss and collaborate. And in the September/October 2014 edition of this magazine, many of our colleagues discussed this topic in great detail.

Essential to overcoming human factors challenges is a commitment to providing the right training and knowledge to ensure success. We have a responsibility to our workforce to put safety first and focus on ways to empower them to defy entrenched workplace dynamics, and speak up when they see something wrong.

Some of our greatest gains in the past several years are related to the ways in which we train and prepare our employees for life on the rig. You need only look at our record over the past 47 years to see that our industry as a whole has made incredible strides with regard to safety. From 1968 to 2013, LTI rates decreased by 98%, according to the IADC ISP. Certainly, this is something to applaud, but the numbers tell the opposite story as well – our employees are still getting hurt. The numbers may be lower than they once were, but the percentage points represent people – people who returned home with injuries, or not at all. And that is unacceptable. We have a duty to arm our employees with the knowledge and skills they need to do their jobs safely and efficiently.

We are in a downturn. And while all available signs indicate that it will be shorter lived than previous downturns, cost cutting is necessary to ensure our livelihood. As we all look at areas where we can save money, I urge that workforce training not be among them. Slowing momentum on the huge strides we have made in safety and training would be harmful, both to our workforce and ultimately to our public perception. As we are all aware, one incident by one company affects all of us in the eyes of the public and regulators.

At IADC, there are several important initiatives under way to address training, competence and credentialing. The Knowledge, Skills and Abilities competencies, Workforce Attraction and Development Initiative and the upcoming new WellCAP accreditation, among others, highlight this commitment.

We also felt it was just as important to reward those who have made a direct impact on improved performance for their company. This year, IADC will recognize these efforts with the Chairman’s Anniversary Award. Developed to recognize individuals in the field who directly impact operations day after day, the award will be given every five years as part of IADC’s anniversary celebrations.

Awardees will have demonstrated how their project or personal effort improved performance for their company by either eliminating injuries, enhancing process safety, reducing NPT, improving equipment reliability and/or increasing efficiency.

Submissions will be accepted via IADC’s website through 31 May and will be judged by a group of industry veterans and IADC staff. I will recognize the award winner at the IADC Annual General Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, on 5 November.

Improving operational performance and our industry’s safety performance statistics is absolutely critical to ensuring our long-term future. I see great enthusiasm by many to tackle these important issues to deliver positive solutions for the future.

Click here to register for the 2015 IADC Human Factors Conference.

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