Windcreek Services’ safety program integrated in everything they do and has all employees taking part in it
Randon Williamson holds the title of environmental health safety director at Windcreek Services, but every one of the company’s 80 employees makes safety an integral part of their job.
“We’re in the oil and gas industry, and our goal is that everyone goes home safely every single night,” he says. “Our company’s culture is deeply committed to safety and it’s vital to everyone’s work.”
And it shows. In 2015, the company based in Gillette, Wyoming, had zero recordable injuries or lost time accidents. That’s an accomplishment for any business, but even more so for a service provider in the oil and gas industry. Windcreek provides a variety of services including excavation, HDPE pipelines, reclamation, fluid management solutions, rigs and asset recovery systems.
Williamson said the company’s safety culture starts from the top. “Company leaders take safety seriously and made sure we as a company are where we need to be,” he says.
The company’s Near Miss Program, which focuses on catching potential safety issues before they happen, is a cornerstone for its safety initiative. An example of a near miss would be an employee who forgot to put on his safety glasses, says Jason Scallen, Windcreek’s sales manager.
“We’re very proactive and trying to ‘catch’ something before it happens,” Scallen says, adding that the employee who left behind his safety glasses would be challenged by his co-workers to bring a 12-pack of soda pop for the team. “It’s all done in a fun manner.”
Employees who spot a near miss are asked to fill out a form explaining what happened. As part of the report, employees rank the near miss from a 1, which means the potential for injury was very minor, up to a 4, which meant the injury potential was very high.
To help employees identify and report near misses, the company held a contest for teams who spotted the most near misses. Employees won a break from work and had the opportunity to shoot skeet, play horseshoes or other fun activities.
All employees can spot the near miss and report it. “One of guys called out our company president (Don Williamson) for not wearing his hard hat in the field,” Scallen says. “He was then asked to bring a 12-pack of pop for the crew. That shows you safety is everyone’s job.”
In addition to empowering employees to spot near misses, Williamson also created a safety team. A safety team member — recognizable by their red hard hats — is located at each of Windcreek’s 18 sites. Team members receive additional training and with their red hats are a visible reminder of the additional attention paid to safety.
“I can’t be at all the sites and the team has had a big safety impact just by their very presence in the field,” Williamson says. “You always have to be aware when it comes to safety since you never know what you’re going to run into in the field.”
Windcreek employees also conduct a daily Job Safety Control Analysis (JSCA). At the start of the day, employees outline and investigate potential hazards and double check equipment. Williamson says this process ensures safety is the first thing employees think about each day.
While 2015 was a safety success for Windcreek, the company remains as committed as ever to safety. If the company finishes 2016 without any reportable injuries, all employees will receive three extra vacation days, Williamson says.
Safety plays a role in the hiring process, too. When interviewing potential employees, managers try to get a feel for the applicant’s commitment to safety and following procedures. Once an employee is hired, he goes through an onboarding program where they receive safety trainings and learn about Windcreek’s safety processes, Scallen says. New hires wear a green hat and complete a six-month mentorship to learn more about safety processes. After six months, the employee earns a white hard hat and assumes full responsibility for his assigned duties.
While safety has always been important at Windcreek, its program was reinvigorated and pumped up after a scary field incident when the elevators came loose while a crew was pulling a well. No one was injured and no equipment was damaged, but it drew attention to Windcreek’s safety programs. One of the crew members involved in the incident filled out a report to document what happened. The report led the company to reexamine its safety systems and create and implement new programs. In addition, Scallen says safety thinking was then integrated into every layer of the company.
Williamson says Windcreek’s safety record makes it stand out from the crowd since oil and gas businesses want safety information about their service providers. To get employees focused on safety, the company not only follows OSHA’s monthly requirement, but goes “above and beyond,” he says.
“If we’re doing confined space tracing, we not only review the information, but then do a hands-on activity,” Williamson says. “Or when we discussed defensive driving techniques, employees put on special goggles that impaired their vision and had to drive around some cones. They could really see how impaired vision can affect your driving.”
Windcreek used a state grant to build a mobile training center. The fully heated and air-conditioned trailer can be taken to different locations for employee training sessions. The trailer includes a computer, large screen and chairs and allows the company to offer real-time training to employees.
“In the energy industry, it’s hard for us to all be at the same place at one time so we take the training out to the employees,” Williamson says.
The company’s safety-first attitude extends beyond the workplace, Williamson says, adding that he saw an off-duty Windcreek truck using chock blocks in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
“Our employee was off-the-clock, but yet he was still embracing the safety culture we’ve created,” he says. “The worker didn’t even think twice about it (putting down the blocks) since safety is just part of who our workers are.”