The changing face of safety in the oil and gas industry

“In this area we’re doing a lot of deeper wells, horizontal wells, high pressure wells, fractured wells,” he explains. “That’s a more complicated operation than what we’re used to in the old days when you just drilled a vertical well into shale zones. Not only is it important to have occupational or individual safety, you have to talk about how individuals work with these complicated systems.” 

Keeping up with changes in the industry means extensive research and talking with other organizations in order to keep the training Enform up to date. That includes reviewing studies like what the newly formed Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada recently conducted on what skills are going to be needed in the area, how many workers will be needed, and what skill deficiencies there might be. 

“We want to make sure that we’re very current on the safety procedures that are necessary for people that are in this kind of work,” says MacGillivray. “This more complicated work has become the standard for the industry, so eventually we have to do a lot of research to bring that to the industry.” 

He adds that safety is no longer being looked at as an outside part of the industry, and is being integrated into daily operations. 

“I think we need to be able to talk about safety in the context of something that’s a part of the work being done,” he argues. “Safety is part of how we do the work, so there are standards, there are supervisors that monitor safety, there are ways of discussing safety and reporting on what’s going on all the time.” 

The ways of studying safety have also changed, as MacGillivray says it’s no longer about just looking at historical data like deaths and time lost, which they receive through an agreement with the Workers’ Compensation BoardNow they’re taking a better look at what can be done to prevent those outcomes in the first place, and finding what the “predictive indicators” are that can be identified early on. 

“What are the little things that are going on in the workplace, even if you haven’t hurt somebody, but if you start seeing these things you better start paying attention because it indicates that the system may be going off the rails,” he says. 

That’s part of what Manager of B.C. Operations Rick Newlove does here in Fort St. John. By looking at data from the WCB, he can identify what companies are struggling or don’t have a proper safety system in place, and offer them help tailored to the region. 

“We use the WorkSafeBC statistics… and then we manipulate those to find out the employers that most need our assistance, which generally have the highest injury record,” Newlove explains. “Then we develop a bunch of background information, develop a package for them, and initiate a conversation with their head people.” 

Enform has approximately 700 instructors across the country that trained 240,000 workers last year alone, as well as internationally. In Fort St. John, St. John’s Ambulance, Northern Lights College, Alpha Safety and Trojan Safety Services are among those certified to teach Enform’s courses.

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About Erica Fisher 4010 Articles

Erica is a reporter for Moose FM and energeticcity.ca in Fort St. John, B.C. She grew up in Victoria, B.C. and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.