Changing the health and safety model

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Federation of Labour asks Hebron to get more input from workers

President of the Federation of Labour, Lana Payne, closed out the list of scheduled presentations on health and safety matters for the Hebron Public Review Commission on Monday.

Payne’s presentation stepped back for a moment from discussions on helicopters and lifeboats, instead addressing the entire health and safety management system of the operator. She called for a re-vamp of the traditional system of health and safety management used for offshore platforms.

While acknowledging the work of the joint occupational health and safety committees at existing installations, Payne said it is her understanding the concerns of workers, coming out of discussions within these committees, have not always made their way through to the regulator or to remedial action.

As an example, she cited concerns expressed about ill-fitting immersion suits, expressed prior to the crash of Cougar 491. As noted in former judge Robert Wells’ report from the Offshore Helicopter Safety Inquiry, suit manufacturer Helly Hansen developed a new suit for offshore N.L. “to address sizing issues” that came to light through an investigation following the crash.

“The fact the proponent is recommending using the same/similar safety management system without taking into account that such a system may now not be sufficient post-Cougar (if it ever was) for operations in the N.L. offshore is, in the opinion of our Federation, unacceptable,” Payne said.

In remedy to the communication issue, she called for Hebron to take the lead in developing a system with “high-level, multi-party input,” with greater worker involvement at the highest levels of health and safety management — a system based on collaboration.

“What we don’t need is more ‘father knows best’ approach to workplace safety,” she told review commissioner Miller Ayre, re-iterating her belief safety concerns have typically been resolved with top-down solutions from management.

In response to the comments, Hebron project manager Geoff Parker said top-down would not be the way for Hebron, pointing to safety education already being completed and noting joint walkabouts with management would be part of health and safety committee work.

Joint occupational health and safety committee members, one group for each section of the platform, will be elected to their positions, Parker said.

He also supported continued use of ExxonMobil’s Operations Integrity Management System (OIMS) in looking at health and safety concerns.

“OIMS is a structured and rigorous approach to identifying hazards and managing risks,” he said, noting risk assessment, incident investigation and management leadership, commitment and accountability are all core elements of OIMS.

Over the last two weeks of public sessions Parker has, citing the OIMS framework, repeatedly said the Hebron project will maintain health and safety of workers as a top priority at all stages of work.

Payne responded to Parker’s comments, saying she does not see OIMS as a bad framework, but feels adding “worker input” as a core element would be of benefit.

More on OIMS, the Hebron Development Plan and project Concept Safety Analysis, detailing broader risk assessment for the project, is available on the Hebron Public Review Commission website.

Meanwhile, the public review sessions on Hebron will continue today, with the focus shifting to environmental protection and environmental policy.

Organizations: Hebron Public Review Commission, Operations Integrity Management System, Federation of Labour Hebron Development Plan

Geographic location: Hebron

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Recent comments

  • William Daniels
    December 06, 2011 - 22:10

    The americans have allready taken over Bull Arm with their "getter done" attitude. This type of attitude didn't work very well in the Gulf of Mexico.