Keeping the crew safe: Just say stop

Six out of 22 rigs in the Maersk Drilling fleet have operated for more than five years without accidents resulting in lost workdays. The concept of Stop Work Authority is one of the important factors behind this success.

Maersk drilling
Every member of the crew is under obligation to push the red button and stop the work process if they see even the slightest hint that an adverse incident might occur.

At midnight on 6 March 2016, the Maersk Heydar ­Aliyev drilling rig entered the exclusive group of ­drilling rigs with the most spotless safety record in Maersk ­Drilling.
Maersk Completer, Mærsk Inspirer, Maersk Resolute, Maersk Resolve, Mærsk Giant and now Heydar Aliyev have all operated for more than five years without any accidents leading to the loss of one or more workdays for a crew member.

The most serious category of accidents aboard drilling rigs is measured in so-called Lost Time Incidents (LTIs). Five years without any LTIs means that the Heydar Aliyev has experienced more than five years in which no crew member under Maersk Drilling’s authority has experienced an injury so serious that she or he was unable to resume work after a medical check.

A variety of tools
This remarkable achievement did not happen by itself.

“When it comes to safety there is a variety of tools one can use. And you have to use all of them all the time,” says Rig Manager for the Heydar Aliyev, Steve Thorley.

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Every time we have experienced a situation with just the slightest potential of an incident happening, we have analysed the series of events very carefully"


Maersk Group safety essentials

  • We are all responsible. If you see a risk, you own it.
  • We all have the authority. Stop any unsafe action or operation.
  • We all have an obligation. Look out for each other.

One of the most important cards in this safety solitaire is called Stop Work Authority. This means that every member of the crew is under obligation to push the red button and stop the work process.

“The use of Stop Work Authority has continually been reinforced and demanded as an obligation of employment on this rig. Every time we have experienced a situation with just the slightest potential of an incident happening, we have analysed the series of events very carefully and have ended up concluding that it is typically linked to the fact that our Stop Work Authority-culture was not as in-grown as we thought it to be. This has paved the way for a persistent emphasis on the need for employees to stop the job, reassess and re-communicate should a job move in the wrong direction,” says Thorley.

The importance of learning from previous accidents and near-misses plays an important role in Thorley’s safety campaign.

Learning from history
Every time a minor incident occurs on board the rig, the crew analyses not only the specific occurrence, but also any underlying trend that needs to be addressed, including accountability, leadership, lessons learned from historical bulletins, and any trends identified during the analysis.

“It is important to study the historical bulletins. We believe that our ability to fully assess the risks we are exposed to, depends on our understanding of how things can go wrong,” Thorley continues.

A three day risk awareness course has been developed for new hires prior to their going to the rig. This gives all new Roustabouts a much better understanding of the processes on board and all new employees are much better prepared for contributing to the planning and are more willing to participate in the planning and more eager to use their Stop Work Authority. They have no preconceived ideas that stopping the job is only something that management can talk about.

Best year for safety
This professionalised approach to safety is one of the factors underlying the fact that 2015 was Maersk Drilling’s best year, in terms of safety.

“The most encouraging thing in 2015, has been to witness the professional manner with which the rig teams have worked on safety issues. We have deployed several new drilling rigs and acquired many new employees in 2015, and yet we have managed to keep the frequency of Lost Time Injuries at its lowest level ever, while simultaneously maintaining a high uptime,” says Head of Health, Safety, Security, & Environment in Maersk Drilling Bent Nielsen.

According to Nielsen, the rig teams have shown great enthusiasm in taking responsibility regarding the effort to minimise personal injuries.

“We must give the rig teams a lot of credit for the fact that Maersk Drilling only had three accidents resulting in lost workdays directly under our responsibility in 2015,” concludes Nielsen.