The United States Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has published Safety Alert #440 relating to reducing incidents through increasing training and supervision of short service employees.
Since the beginning of 2022, the BSEE has seen a significant trend in reported incidents with causes or contributing factors that point to short service employees. The BSEE defines such an employee as one who has worked at a worksite or facility for less than six months, worked in an industry for less than six months, or who has recently changed positions, where some period of on-the-job training or mentorship is required.
Some of the incidents seen are noted here:
- A short service employee was injured during a maintenance operation on rotating equipment. The employee placed his hand on the belt connecting the electric motor to the repaired pump, and then subsequently started the electric motor before removing his hand. The belt guard had been removed during the repair. The post-incident investigation findings cited major factors as lack of knowledge and experience and inadequate work planning or training in the field;
- During an offshore inspection, platform leadership informed BSEE inspectors that “they are at max capacity of SSEs and cannot afford to lose any experienced personnel”;
- Deepwater production facility personnel reported to BSEE that they had experienced a 40% personnel turnover during annual performance reviews in the past two years;
- A short service employee was injured on the rig floor during tool running operations. He placed his hand between a bushing and the running tool, and when the bushing was released, it dropped and injured his hand. The post-investigation report found that he used improper hand placement and failed to use hands-free tools. This was only his second time working as rig floor support staff;
- During a BSEE inspection at a facility, inspectors noted that the employees present were not familiar with safety device testing requirements, nor could they perform the necessary safety system testing. The inspectors also pointed out that the employees were new to the platform. BSEE inspectors issued an incident of noncompliance (INC) at that facility.
The BSSE notes that “like many other industries, the offshore oil and gas industry has experienced a tremendous upheaval/disorder in the workforce due to COVID-19 and other related factors, with more new personnel working on facilities and more frequent transfers between facilities. However, the complexities and imminent dangers faced by offshore energy industry workers have not changed or dissipated”.
IMCA notes that this is also true of the offshore renewables sector.
Recommendations BSEE recommends:
- Adequate training and mentoring of new employees. Training should include, but is not limited to, hazard identification and specific job hazard mitigation. Zone awareness training, including hands-on drills, should be mandatory for new rig floor workers. All short service employee should have some form of assessment at the appropriate time to evaluate and address any gaps in knowledge;
- Establishing a program or policy that trains and prepares experienced employees to become mentors for short service employees entering the workforce or work location. Such a program should include hazard identification and risk management training as well as leadership training;
- Sending short service employees to hands-on training classes, instead of courses that primarily rely on classroom discussion. Appropriate use of simulators could be used so that typical hazards seen offshore can be identified hands-on (including visually and audibly) instead of courses relying solely on pictures and classroom discussions;
- Assessing training and competency before arrival offshore. Upon arrival, crew should be assigned a qualified mentor. The qualifications and hazards local to the job scope and the facility should be extensively reviewed and discussed to increase understanding before starting work.
- Establishing a policy for the maximum permitted ratio of new crew to existing or experienced crew, both on a facility or vessel and on specific jobs or tasks;
- Evaluating the workload and competencies of new crew until expertise is fully assessed and evaluated. Understanding that personnel gain knowledge with experience. Involving new crew in in specific high-risk jobs should be evaluated based on all risk factors;
- Ensuring adequate supervision and oversight of new or inexperienced crew.
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