​The new Energy Safety Canada wants to lead a more proactive and efficient approach to oil and gas safety

Energy Safety Canada president Murray Elliott. Image: Brian Zinchuck/Pipeline News

Weyburn — What used to be known as Enform, and before that, Petroleum Industry Training Society (PITS) is now Energy Safety Canada (ESC).

The renaming came about when Enform merged with the Oil Sands Safety Association (OSSA) in the fall of 2017.

Safety stats in Canadian oil and gas have improved significantly, said ESC president Murray Elliott, and now it is time for a new approach to take that to the next level.

“Everybody has done a fantastic job at improving safety over the years. You look back over the past 30 years and you’ll see a continual trend in safety performance improving,” he said.

“There’s always a recognition that what’s gotten you to this point is not what will get you to the next. And so it was that strategy to look at the next step towards that common vision of no injuries and no serious incidents.”

That strategy led to the merger. It didn’t happen in 2016 due to the oil economy at the time. On Oct. 2, 2017, the merger took place, with Elliott and interim CEO John Rhind coming in Sept. 1.

“I come from 31 years of experience with Shell. I’ve worked coast-to-coast-to-coast in Canada, all within Canada,” Elliott said, including as general manager for the greater Deep Basin area and vice-president of health and safety for heavy oil.

OSSA was a very small organization that did almost everything through third parties and contract work, or, like Enform, fostering the facilitation and collaboration amongst industry players. Enform had roughly 120 people on staff, and OSSA had three. When asked why they didn’t simply stay as Enform, Elliott replied, “What we are really signaling is actually a change of mandate. The majority of what Enform did was training, as did OSSA. There was also some key work leading the collaboration to put more guidelines in place, more interventions.

“What’s different with this Energy Safety Canada is that we are really getting into the space of being far more proactive and leading safety.”

They’re not going to be lobbyists, Elliot explained.

“We will not become an advocate. Our goal is to become the trusted safety authority, and by that, we expect that we will get asked to engage in the various governments. But we will not become an advocacy association. Our various associations, who are really the owners, are the advocates.”

Better outcomes on worker safety

“Where we are playing is really about getting better outcomes on worker safety,” Elliot said.

“We have a strategy from our board that’s five years, tied to the merger. One of our core deliverables is to get one common set of safety rules and life-saving rules. A significant number of companies have adopted these things, with slight differences. We want some commonality in that.

“Once you get common safety rules, then you can put in common safety orientations,” he said.

“Most companies require people to do some kind of orientation, often before they even show up on site. These things are slightly different, but they’re subtly different, by the time a lot of the workers have done literally 10 of these things, they couldn’t tell the difference at different sites. We actually lose the value, and we, quite frankly, lose the workers on what’s important,” Elliott said.

One common safety orientation could have better outcomes and reduce duplication.

He noted this is already in place at oilsands mining and upgrading sites. It could result in a ticket, similar to what the organization already does with H2S Alive.

The oilsands version is a one-time thing, and not refreshed on a cycle like H2S Alive. ESC will assess that for this program.

“We are working towards making sure we have single IDs for workers and are really able to allow mobility. We are breaking down barriers, say, between the oilsands and the rest of the upstream business, where we had different fall arrest courses,” Elliot said.

“We are trying to break down any barriers. Clearly, we need to comply with all the regulations and legislation in each of the jurisdictions. But where it’s within our control, break down those barriers; make it simpler, make it easier and more effective…We still want the outcomes. We want workers trained and able to get to work, but we want to do that in the most efficient, effective way possible.”

— Excerpted from Pipeline News

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