PlantSuccess: a unique view of safety

Deborah Grubbe, vice president of safety change management for BP and General Ken Eickmann, USAF (ret.), from the Energy Institute of the University of Texas presented an interesting view of safety.

Grubbe was most interesting when she presented. "How is the world of safety changing?" she asked. "We know about process safety, occupational safety, electrical safety, and ergonomics," she continued, "but what is important is education-- most importantly, education of business leaders. We're getting a younger generation of business leaders, and every time you get a new business leader, you have a new argument about safety."

It is the "tone at the top" Grubbe said, and there is a direct relationship between stewardship and safety. We've coached CEOs and we get them to articulate "safety culture" which is not "either or" but rather "both-and."

Workforce changes are impacting the process industries. Workers are older, out of shape, knowledgeable...and after the last several weeks, they will be working longer. New workers are younger, inexperienced, energetic, and they want immediate feedback. Type II Diabetes is becoming epidemic. English as a second language is critical for new workers. Business leaders are getting younger. We have a more transient workforce. Skill shortages are impacting schedules. There are H1B issues, and a challenging (to say the least) economic environment.

"Development is more critical than ever, and that means people development," Grubbe said.

"We need to focus on making sure that the safety pros and the line leadership understand business leadership, which they often do not," Grubbe said. Management of change is critical, along with new technologies for safety systems.

"There is an effect of health on safety," Grubbe said. "Stress, burnout and fatigue are negative indicators for process safety." You have to build a safety culture, with the proper ethics and attitudes.

DuPont did a pilot in which they paid operators and maintenance techs to exercise as part of their daily work orders. MSD injuries went down from 18 in 1999 to 0 in 2001.

At BP, Grubbe said, a healthy plant means a healthy process and healthy people. This means education, changing how contractors work, and paying for better workers to work fewer hours.

INEOS Nova has instituted a policy of controlled rest. Workers can take naps when they need to during the work period.

It is about developing a safety culture, Grubbe said, and once you achieve it, you must work to stay there. Safety cultures are different in different locations, too, she noted.

There is a strong link between ethics and safety, too. You must have a principled organization.

The next frontier in safety is going to be health.

General Ken Eickmann talked about energy independence as it relates to security, the environment and economy.

"We are on the cusp of supply and demand," Eikmann said. "30% of oil imports are refined, not crude, and they're refined outside the US."

The Air Force accounts for over 51% of the energy purchases by the Federal Government, and the increase in the price of oil  and refined jet fuels has added enormously to the deficit.

He detailed what the Air Force and others are doing to attempt to achieve energy independence.