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Identifying weak signals helps make people and facilities safer. Because they are early warning signs of accidents telling us that a situation is deteriorating, our HSE management needs to keep a closer eye on them. Yet being proactive about events is complicated at the operational level. As operators in Papua New Guinea since the summer of 2015, our teams came up with an innovative way to raise awareness among contractor personnel: a serious game to spot weak signals.

Philippe Resseguier

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Samuel Epete

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Seth Stoner

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Weak Signals: Another Approach to Risk Prevention

Because we aim to be the oil industry’s safety leader, we take steps to identify any potentially hazardous situation as early as possible. We do this even when HSE management is satisfactory based on the usual “strong signal” HSE KPIs, such as days without a lost-time incident, days without a recordable injury, etc. Strong signals may obscure negative tendencies that could lead to major incidents as a result of overconfidence or complacency.

So it’s important to keep a close eye on weak signals, too. By spotting and addressing these early warning signs before critical events occur, we can better anticipate deteriorating safety at installations and stop the sequence of events leading up to an accident.

Antelope-7 site in the Papua New Guinea rainforest

A Serious Game in Papua New Guinea

Our operations in Papua New Guinea perfectly illustrate the way weak and strong signals can differ. The HSE management system implemented by the drilling contractor was complete and well documented. Yet safety culture had plenty of room to improve, as evidenced by a number of weaknesses spotted when the first well was drilled. The list includes not following the rules for personal protective equipment (PPE) and permits to work (PTW), underuse of the card system for reporting anomalies and lack of awareness of major risks.

So the teams introduced a serious game on Rig 115. It involved selecting eight daily objectives to serve as weak signals, each corresponding to an HSE weakness observed at the site. If all eight are met on the same day, that day is called a “Perfect Day.” The site team’s goal is to log a Perfect Day, followed by two in a row, then three in a row and so on.

The eight objectives for designating a Perfect Day on Rig 115 were:

  • No recordable incident.
  • No unplanned non-productive time.
  • Describing and discussing the two well barriers.
  • Providing each newcomer with good HSE induction.
  • Having everyone use the proper personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Having an appropriate permit to work for each task.
  • Having a group hazard hunt.
  • Good food.

Drilling contractor personnel were enthusiastic about the serious game and pulled together to achieve as many Perfect Days as possible. Result: after implementing the game for one business quarter, they achieved a Perfect Day rate that regularly topped 50%. Also and most important, a genuine HSE culture was created on the rig: use of PPE, better quality permits to work, etc. Ultimately, HSE performance improved, a win-win all round!

Celebration of the 40th successful “serious game” day on Antelope-7

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