While acquisitions are an important growth factor for Weatherford Canada Partnership, they also pose a safety challenge, according to quality, health, safety, security and environment (QHSSE) director Wendy Wilson.
The Calgary-based oilfield services provider has acquired more than 250 companies over the past 13 years. New companies often come with cultures and practices that may not mesh with Weatherford’s — particularly when it comes to safety.
“This means unravelling their cultures and rebuilding them as part of the Weatherford breed,” says Wilson. “While the oil and gas industry is notoriously high risk, we know that it can change by bringing in the right people and harnessing their passion and knowledge.”
Wilson reports that a methodical, two-pronged approach to culture change has completely transformed Weatherford’s Canadian region — which has 2,500 employees — and is helping to continuously improve the safety standard within the industry.
In the last four years, Weatherford has seen a 75 per cent improvement in both recordable injuries and vehicle incident statistics, and a 90 per cent improvement in lost-time injuries.
One driver of that change was training for managers. Now, the senior unit managers are required to attend full-day, peer QHSSE reviews where they deliver presentations relating to their safety performance. This practice ensures that they understand the importance of meeting safety requirements and are able to recognize high-potential incidents and root causes, and help develop best practices.
The second driver was the creation of the HSE Excellence program. The program identifies and engages the most influential employees at strategic locations to act as health and safety champions. These individuals are educated on the strategies and skills necessary to lead cultural change at their work sites. The “champions” must deliver an action plan and continue to influence the safety attitudes and behaviours of their colleagues.
All new employees (to Weatherford or a role), regardless of experience, are considered short service employees (SSE) for a period of no less than six months and are identified with a green hard hat. All SSE are assigned a trained mentor who was selected based on experience, attitude and attributes. In order to come off the SSE program after six months, the employee has to demonstrate he has completed all assigned training and achieved his Level 1 competency standard.
Rig operator Tyler Pilling confirms that, since Weatherford acquired its continuous rods and well services division in 1998, the company’s safety culture has evolved in both attitude and culture.
“Our team leaders stand behind the motto that no activity is so important that we cannot take the time to do it safely,” he says. “And our work family is just as important as the one at home.”