While it may feel that today’s society has run amok with the concept of needing a day to recognise everything, setting aside the likes of Be Bald and Free Day and Bring Your Teddy to Work Day just for a moment, October 14 marks an interesting date for the energy diary.
World Standards Day aims to raise awareness among regulators, industry and consumers as to the importance of standardisation to the global economy. For the oil and gas sector, standards are an integral part of daily life.
The often high risk nature of work carried out in our sector has cultivated a necessary intense focus on health and safety. Increasingly complex legal requirements, regulations, standards and business relationships paired with explorations moving into extreme locations to meet the increasing demand means the effective management of workforce safety and competence - and that of contractors - is more important than ever.
Greater effort is now placed on ensuring contracting companies align with operating companies’ safety cultures. Both parties have well developed strategies for the development of workforce safety and competency.
This is a unique task though as operators often do not have direct supervision of the contracting workforce, and therefore must focus on their ability to influence and enforce their expectations for safety and competency. Contracting companies’ safety performance is almost always proportional to the emphasis the operator has placed on safety either verbally or contractually.
For oil and gas companies, many of whom operate in multiple countries across the globe, negotiating the medley of working practices and standards across continents and ensuring staff competency can be a minefield.
While many continue to set and maintain their own standards, a growing number of companies are choosing to have a demonstrable and clear competence system that is judged on a regular basis by a recognised external authority. This provides companies with a degree of assurance and quality while potentially opening the door to a raft of new business opportunities.
Ultimately, the effective management of workforce and contractor safety and competency makes good business sense with the benefits going beyond the safety of employees and sustaining business performance. By encouraging greater social responsibility, companies can also increase innovation and knowledge transfer amongst their personnel.
It may be a cliché to talk about people being the most important asset of a business, but it’s nonetheless true. Companies that don’t invest in their people by achieving the best possible standards are failing themselves and this great industry for future generations.