Three tips for writing an effective oil and gas lone working policy
In Oil and Gas UK’s 2018 Workforce Report, they found that the industry supports 283,000 UK jobs, with 50,000 people travelling to offshore sites in 2017 alone. Lone workers in the oil and gas sector can include mobile workers driving across the country or staff on rigs, refineries and factories. Protecting lone working staff across your organisation is your legal and moral duty as an employer. An effective lone worker policy is an integral part of ensuring your staff can work safely and with confidence, as well as legally safeguarding your oil or gas company in the event of an incident.
Why do I need a lone working policy?
While the oil and gas sector is one of the safest industries in the UK in terms of work related fatalities - there was only one fatality in 2017 - injuries and incidents are still prevalent. Slips, trips and falls were the greatest cause of injury at 37%, while people were also injured while lifting and handling material, when struck by objects or when in contact with machinery or harmful substances.
When something does go wrong in the oil and gas industry, it can result in disaster. In 2007, the Usumacinta Jack-up rig suffered a gas leak and the resulting fire killed 22 people. The deadliest accident in the oil and gas industry occurred on a rig in 1988 - the Piper Alpha Disaster took 167 lives and the Cullen Inquiry concluded that maintenance work and miscommunication between staff changing shifts resulted in a fire that took three weeks to control.
Your lone working policy is your employees one stop shop for understanding their responsibilities as a lone worker and your responsibilities to them as an employer. An effective lone worker policy will ensure your staff - whether offshore, on the road or on-site - are prepared for all eventualities. Here are some tips to help you write an easy to understand lone working policy.
Data, data, data
An effective lone working policy begins with formally identifying risk in your organisation. Conducting a thorough risk assessment means collecting a wealth of data that will help inform your policy. Effective, comprehensive data collection is integral in ensuring you deliver a lone worker policy that reflects the actuality of risk in your organisation.
Ways to collect data include: employee interviews, surveys and questionnaires; staff observations and on-site visits; previous incident reports and industry insight.
Remember to speak to employees across your whole company - manager insight is hugely important but frontline lone workers who do the job every day are one of your best sources of risk data, particularly in the oil and gas industry where job roles can vary widely.
Be clear and simple
Keep it simple, keep it updated, keep it direct. Your lone worker policy is a document that will be used by new lone workers, existing lone workers, and your legal and support staff. Make it easy for them to get the information they need by using simple, direct language.
Clearly set-out the aims and purpose of the policy. Who is it for, what is it for, and what are the organisational goals for the policy. Ensure all lone working staff, even if they are based offshore, have access to the most up-to-date version of the document.
Keep it practical
Give a clear set of procedures for all eventualities. Staff need to know what to do in the event of a leak while lone working, what to do if they are threatened by a member of the public while driving, or how to report unsafe machinery or equipment.
Your lone worker policy should be designed with usability in mind - so that every lone worker has a clearly defined workflow when something goes wrong.
Use definitive language and actions - lone workers are “required” to check-in with their managers, not simply “advised” to check-in.
Provide scope for additional guidance and support. Lone working can result in issues beyond physical injury or incident; stress, depression and anxiety, absenteeism, feelings of isolation, and other issues can arise if adequate support is not in place. Your lone worker policy should account for these related issues and direct your lone workers towards the support they need.
Your lone working policy isn’t just a document: it’s a pledge
An effective lone working policy for your oil and gas company is an integral part in legally protecting your organisation, safeguarding your staff and giving them the reassurance and confidence to do their jobs effectively and safely. Combining your lone working policy with an intelligent, usable lone worker safety solution like Safepoint is your way of ensuring the safety of all those employees who work alone in your oil and gas organisation.