We sat down with our Americas Business Development Manager, Brady Moore, to gain an insight into the state of play in Drops prevention in the region. The discussion covered the differences between industries, the need for openness, and the importance of proactivity.
Read on below to learn more about Brady’s role, and his 4 key lessons learned for Drops prevention in the Americas.
How long have you been working at Dropsafe?
I’ve actually been working with Dropsafe for about 8 years, acting as their main distribution channel in the Americas region. Having had that first-hand experience supporting Drops prevention in key US sectors, this year I made the step of joining Dropsafe to focus more exclusively on what I’ve always seen as a crucial area of Health and Safety best practice. We have a responsibility to support Drops prevention – ultimately, it saves lives.
In your experience, is there any variation in the way different industries respond to Drops in the Americas?
Many of my interactions are with businesses in upstream Oil & Gas (O&G). There’s no denying that the culture of safety is completely ingrained into that industry, to a greater extent than almost all others.
That said, we’re finding that other industries are starting to zero in on Drops risks. Of course, it takes time to build that culture of H&S and Drops awareness – but the O&G industry has already done the legwork in identifying the risks. There’s a roadmap, but we can continue to enhance it. A lot of Drops go unreported, so it will be better for employees the more firms get involved. It’s encouraging on this front that many of the new groups approaching us at the moment aren’t in O&G. Even in the current economic situation, they are recognising the severity of the threat and coming to us.
Is there any one piece of legislation or guidance in the Americas that dictates best practice on Drops?
There’s no Bible that everyone follows. Key industry players have rallied behind DROPS – it’s their guidelines which have largely been adopted. The DROPS North America chapter has come about through collaboration of many of the biggest energy companies. Whenever I talk to someone starting out, I point them to that.
Not every facility sees the same incidents. Having a bespoke Drops programme helps firms to develop and share best practice. This is the key component of everything I’ve seen, that open approach with this information, sharing incidents accidents and reports. These companies are rivals, but are working together on safety – it’s important.
In terms of legislation, firms may follow OSHA standards around ‘walking working surfaces’, and even recognise that the commonly used ‘orange mesh’ is inadequate. But they may not be aware of what else is out there. We are learning their language, what they are looking for and where they are in their Drops prevention journey, so that we can provide the best service and advice.
As far as what we are striving to do as a company, OSHA doesn’t cover Drops at the required level. O&G have set themselves apart as a sector because they have self-regulated, going beyond the book to ensure that safety is upheld to the highest standards.
How has Drops prevention evolved in the Americas in the last couple of decades?
The products that Dropsafe provides simply weren’t around 15 years ago. That doesn’t mean that Drops didn’t happen. It’s through collaboration and information sharing within O&G that we have been able to develop, and continue to provide the most robust, cost-effective products.
The other key factor is aging assets. It’s difficult to maintain older facilities, and you can never plan for a Drops incident. Here in the states, facilities continue to age, suffering corrosion, wind, and vibration damage. We see most incidents with these aging facilities – there needs to be greater recognition of the issue so that the industries affected can get proper prevention.
What are your 4 key lessons for Drops prevention in the Americas?
Managing Drops is not a challenge that can be tackled overnight, but based on my experience working with businesses, my four main pieces of advice would be:
Being willing to share incident data is what drives the ability of all facilities to prevent these incidents. It’s less painful to learn from the mistakes of others than it is your own – and on an industry scale, it’s vital that mistakes are not repeated so that lives can be saved.
Our inquiries are often driven by incidents – but once an incident has occurred it’s a case of being reactive instead of proactive. Unfortunately, it usually takes an incident to happen before a particular threat is tackled, but it shouldn’t. Sometimes we get companies coming to us having experienced incidents that seem incredibly unfortunate and unlikely, but the key is to think a number of steps ahead to tackle Drops before a serious incident occurs.
Everyone has a different value for HSE products. Ultimately, though, you can’t put a cost on a life or critical injury. We are cost conscious and always looking to bring the cost of our systems down, but at the same time we don’t want to give firms a product that won’t last. And actually, it’s the robust and durable quality of our solutions which makes us so cost-effective.
Another point is that our installation is easy and fast, reducing labour costs. Over the lifecycle of a product, it may be re-deployed multiple times – but some systems that are easy to deploy aren’t robust enough to go the distance and maintain that versatility.
What we strive to achieve is communicating this up the decision-making chain. The logic of long-term planning is sound, but creating that understanding of a holistic cost-base including labour costs, replacement and maintenance is crucial.
There needs to be an understanding that you can’t prevent every single incident. However, we aim to prevent the vast majority. There’s no room for complacency, which is why it’s so vital to ingrain that culture, in order to relay to employees that the management care about safety.
This doesn’t always mean a top down approach. Often, bottom up safety culture is good – in many ways better.
I was at one of the last safety shows before the pandemic hit, at NSC in San Diego.
I listened to a panel and one lady said: ‘You can’t force safety on your workers. It has to be organically implanted into the fabric of the organisation’.
Our experience is that this is applicable throughout almost every industry. Creating a safety committee that includes every level not only gives people working in an organisation a say. It’s a vital mechanism to ensure that invaluable ‘on the ground’ intelligence gained by personnel on the front line – who ultimately stand to lose most from Drops – can be efficiently distributed through all of a firms’ operations.
Empowering these vital personnel, giving them a voice: this is how you grow an organic, resilient culture of safety.