Creating a ‘target zero’ safety culture and eliminating catastrophic injuries requires a program of intense training, bottom-up feedback, and worker and community-centric planning, according to oil and gas executives on Wednesday.

The safety experts, speaking on a panel at the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s annual “Energy Summit,” examined the move from safety procedures and improving equipment to inspiring a safety culture focused on workers, described as family, and the neighborhoods and communities where the industry operated.

“There’s one area we continue to evolve in and that’s on serious injuries,” said Christina Henderson, President and Director, Suncor Energy USA Pipeline Company.

Companies need to go beyond assuming ‘common sense’ procedures are adequate and examine how their organization communicates internally and addresses any safety issues that arise, Henderson said.

“What we realized through our processes is that we were really missing a key component in our serious injury and fatality precursors,” said Henderson, “and this caused us take a step back and say, ‘what’s missing here?’”

Henderson said Suncor addressed blind spots in her company’s safety analysis. “Any incident that has the potential—a near miss or an actual incident that has a potential—anything that has the potential for serious injury or fatality, we do a thorough investigation and it has really changed our level of ownership for those types of incidents,” said Henderson.

“We have to keep learning. We can’t stay stagnant,” said Henderson.

The panel comes in the wake of an explosion at a Firestone home in April that killed two men after natural gas leaked from an abandoned flow line entered the house.

Yesterday, Gov. John Hickenlooper released a seven-point state plan directing the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to strengthen flowline regulations, enhance the state’s 8-1-1 call program that provides gas line information to homeowners, and create an orphan well fund to plug abandoned wells and provide refunds for in-home methane monitors, among other policy initiatives.

Gov. John Hickenlooper/Western Wire

Hickenlooper gave COGCC 12 months to implement the policies through peer-reviewed rulemaking and legislation in the 2018 legislative session.

In addition, Hickenlooper announced that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and COGA would be forming an alliance to develop and maintain safety best practices for the industry.

“At CH2M, we believe in ‘Target Zero.’ Target Zero means we plan every task with safety in mind,” said Britt Howard, Corporate Vice President of Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Quality at CH2M.

“We are not a safety company but we are a service provider. We cannot provide effective service unless we do it safely,” Howard said. “Target Zero enables everybody to focus in on doing the right thing, every time.”

Howard said that effort includes every process from the most routine to disassembling a rig in the field.

“Everything is important. And more importantly, every work family member is important,” said Howard.

CH2M employees and contractors are empowered, according to Howard, to stop work and challenge at all levels and in every minute in the field.

“Our work families are the most important asset CH2M has, and for all of them to go home safely is of utmost importance,” Howard said.

How the industry understands hazards and communicate the steps it has taken to reduce risk and share that with the community is something that is not always done, according to Marc McGill, Essential Health and Safety Requirements Director for Noble Energy.

“[We need to show] how much commitment and how much understanding goes into help mitigate those risks. The goal is to eliminate all risk,” said McGill. “There are all of these preparations not only with our employees and contractors in this big effort of education and all of the focus we have on risk. A lot of times that’s not fully understood.”

Achieving better safety takes intense training and passing on best practices to those new to the industry, according to McGill.

“The education and training our industry does for our staff, the coaching and mentoring—for us, for Noble Energy, ‘No Harm’ means not only no harm to our people, but no harm to the environment and no harm to our communities,” McGill said.