2024March/AprilSafety and ESGThe Offshore Frontier

Seadrill redefines Safety Officer role to enable greater focus on crew coaching, interactions

Administrative burden is also lightened for the newly upskilled Offshore HSE Advisors so they can better support core operations on deck

By Stephen Whitfield, Senior Editor

Even for companies with established and high-performing HSE protocols and procedures, the push to improve safety performance at the margins can lead to constant evaluation.

In 2022, Seadrill undertook a routine examination of the root causes behind safety incidents on its rigs and found common root causes, including a lack of supervision, inadequate hazard identification and a lack of adequate controls, said Sagar Raut, HSE Manager at Seadrill.

That analysis led Seadrill to further assess the roles and responsibilities of the offshore HSE support staff across its fleet and find ways to help them improve their efficiency. What it found was that too much of the support staff’s time – approximately 70%, according to Mr Raut – was spent in front of computers, typically performing administrative duties for rig managers and filing reports. Too little of their time was spent actually training and working with rig crews on their safety performance.

Additionally, the assessments helped Seadrill to identify which HSE support staff were well prepared to take on a more active role coaching rig personnel about the company’s safety protocols, as well as the additional training that some support staff may need to fill that role, Mr Raut said.

“The assessment gave us a baseline understanding of where each of our offshore HSE people stood,” he explained. “Do we want them to be coaching others? Is there somewhere in the middle where they need a bit more coaching, or some kind of mentoring development plan, or do they need a lot of development?” Mr Raut spoke at the 2024 IADC HSE&T Conference in Houston on 6 February.

The result of that assessment was a comprehensive redesign and replacement of the role of Safety Officer with a new role, Offshore HSE Advisor (OHSEA). This job redefinition impacted everything from reporting lines to roles and responsibilities to training and competency assessment, as well as their ability to have the bandwidth to support rig teams and core operations on deck.

The project focused on significantly upskilling the company’s offshore HSE team and providing them with the required technical competence and confidence to be able to influence and engage offshore teams to drive operations to new levels of safety, efficiency and reliability.

Like with the traditional Safety Officer role, OHSEAs are responsible for ensuring the compliance of rig personnel with hazard management and other HSE protocols. They also still carry out monthly audits to verify the rig’s compliance with Seadrill’s core HSE requirements, and support operator and regulatory audits. However, the chain of command has now changed: Safety Officers are traditionally considered part of the rig crew and report to the rig manager. The OHSEA, however, reports to Seadrill’s onshore HSE managers.

Further, the OHSEA takes a more direct role in training the rig crews onsite and acts as more of an advisor to supervisors, while also remaining in constant communication with the shore-based HSE advisor.

They maintain active and visible interactions with offshore management in accordance with guidance from the HSE manager. They also support the consistent application of Seadrill’s PIMED (Plan, Identify, Manage, Execute and Debrief) process, as well as its STAR behavioral-based safety program, in which personnel observe other workers regularly to reinforce good safety practices. The STAR program also teaches personnel to identify and correct unsafe practices that might lead to injury.

The priority with creating the OHSEA role was to eliminate the administrative tasks that the Safety Officer performed, particularly preventative maintenance tasks that involve finding potential safety hazards on the rig, Mr Raut said. “In a traditional safety role, you have to manage and administer the training, but there is also an administrative workload and a lot of preventative maintenance tasks. We wanted to filter out that administrative workload.”

Seadrill created three levels of OSHEAs requiring different levels of training. To achieve OHSEA-1 status, advisors must complete Managing Safely from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health; it is an introductory course looking at the fundamentals of health and safety management in the workplace.

They must also obtain the NEBOSH (UK National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health) International General Certificate, or the equivalent of that certificate in another country. Further, they must complete root cause analysis training from Kelvin TOP-SET, developers of a barrier-based risk-management system. On top of that, Level 1 advisors must complete Seadrill’s training programs, including EOSP (Enabling Operational Safety Performance).

To achieve OHSEA-2 status, advisors must complete Level 1 requirements on top of obtaining International Safety Management’s Lead Auditor certification, as well as Train the Trainer Certification, and either ISO 9001, ISO 45001 or ISO 14001 Lead Auditor Certification. To achieve OHSEA-3 status, advisors must then add on ISO 50001 Auditor certification, participate in coaching and mentoring training, and spend time as a facilitator of a learning team.

“What we’re offering with these levels is a career progression. You can reach Level 1, and in one or two years you reach Level 2, and then potentially in two or three years you get to Level 3. At that point, we’re talking about being an advanced safety professional. It is part of the puzzle for progressing our offshore HSE personnel,” Mr Raut said.

The tiers of OHSEAs do not affect the direct responsibilities of the position – Level 3 advisors do not take on additional responsibilities compared with Level 1. However, the additional training arms the employee with knowledge that helps them better advise rig crews on how to identify hazards on the rig and perform their jobs safely. That knowledge, Mr Raut said, can give the advisor a more prominent voice in HSE management.

“Historically, the Safety Officer was just another crew member on the rig. Once we upskill him, bring him to a Level 2 or 3, he has enough knowledge to have a seat at the table with the OEMs and onboard management. I think that’s important. It changes how he’s interacting with the crew and their perception of that role. He’s not the safety police, but he’s somebody who’s enabling me to do my job better than what I was doing in the past,” Mr Raut said.

Seadrill conducted the initial pilot for the OHSEA role in early 2023 in the US Gulf of Mexico and later rolled out the position on its West Africa rigs. Mr Raut said the transition is still ongoing, but overall reaction has been positive.

“The onshore management has been fully onboard from the get-go,” Mr Raut said. “We had to do a bit of nudging with the rig management. They had concerns that they were losing a resource or that they were getting a snitch on the rig, for the lack of a better word. The initial perception was that somebody was going tell the onshore HSE manager all that’s happening on the rig. But that’s not the role. This is about helping people do their jobs better. We had a series of meetings with the managers, listened to their concerns, discussed them, visited the rigs, and we’ve been able to manage those concerns.” DC

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