With depressed oil prices, smaller workforces and an increased emphasis on the bottom line, many companies in the energy industry have let safety procedures slide to the back seat.
But not all of them.
One company that actually enhanced its safety programs is Light Tower Rentals (LTR), a 22-year old firm well-known in the oil patch as a leader and innovator in the area of safety.
“Safety and health in our business must be a part of every operation,” said Pat Bond, President and Chief Operating Officer of LTR. “Without question, it is every employee’s responsibility at all levels. Our goal is nothing less than zero accidents and injuries.”
But Bond does more than just lip service when it comes to safety. He and the rest of the LTR management team empower each and every employee with the power to stop any job in progress if they see a potential safety hazard, even if it’s the smallest of occurrences.
Recently however, one employee’s actions may have saved many lives thanks to LTR’s “Stop Work Authority” policy.
“One of our NG Technicians in South Texas was dispatched to a location after an alert was received that one of our Natural Gas Generators went down,” said Ted Hogan, co-founder and CEO of LTR. “After arriving at the location, the technician noticed that the generator stopped working because of low gas pressure. He started looking over the generator for leaks and then traced up the line to the gas source. He found a gas leak coming from the supply line to our generator.”
According to Hogan, the area where the generator was operating is known for having high H2S (Hydrogen Sulfide, a highly poisonous gas) content, so the technician immediately shut down the entire location along with the adjacent location that was downwind from the leak. The LTR technician removed at least 20-25 workers off these locations.
He was able to do that immediately without having to wait for management approvals thanks to LTRs Stop Work Authority safety procedure. “We are committed to performing tasks in a way that is safe for our employees, customers and the environment,” said Hogan. “For that reason, LTR empowers all of its employees to stop work if he or she feels there is a danger to themselves, others or their surroundings.”
In the South Texas incident, after evacuating the locations, the technician called the LTR safety officers to relay the situation. The customer was immediately contacted and they were extremely pleased that LTR employees are trained on stop work authority.
“No employee is required to work at a job he or she knows is not safe or healthful,” said Bond. “The personal safety and health of each employee of this company, as well as that of our customers, is of primary importance. The prevention of occupationally-induced injuries and illnesses is of such consequence that it is given precedence over operating productivity whenever necessary.”
Another unique program started by LTR is that of “Safety Coins.” Actual coins are distributed to a selected group of individuals who are charged with, as Hogan puts it, “catching people doing something right.” Once an employee receives a coin, he or she also gets an explanation of the LTR vision, values and importance of safety. Those employees are then charged with passing along the coin to the next level. “The program, while small in nature, is something that keeps safety in the front of every employees’ mind,” said Hogan.
The focus on safety begins during the pre-screening process when someone applies for work at LTR. In addition to traditional pre-employment driving record review and drug screenings, LTR has implemented the “Personal Commitment to My Employer and Myself” as part of their new employee orientation. Employees are then given a card which outlines expectations as an LTR employee, specifically highlighting safety, integrity and commitment.
Once hired, employees are required to take monthly on-line safety courses. Since they are online, it’s a convenient way to keep employees fully trained in safety procedures no matter where they may be working. The state-of-the-art training courses are administered to align with each employee’s role and responsibilities and have resulted in a 100% monthly completion rate among all employees.
In addition, LTR’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have been written and updated to be the standard for training all field employees on the most frequently performed job tasks. “SOPs are a way to consistently train the same procedures across the entire company in a safe and consistent manner,” said Hogan. “All of our employees have access to each and every Standard Operating Procedure via our mobile app. It’s just another way that Light Tower Rentals continues to be the state-of-the-art leader in companywide safety training and execution. And that’s been one of our goals all along.”
As newer and more technology-savvy methods become available for safety training and execution, LTR is committed to adopting those methods to enhance their employee and customer safety.