No room for complacency

The target is zero incidents. Better equipment, improved processes and continued training has helped them, but not enough. To push further, Maersk Drilling has deployed HSE coaches. Bo D. Johansen is one of them, and he tries to encourage everybody on the rig to work in a state of what he calls 'chronic unease.'

"We have all the right equipment. We have all the right processes and procedures. But if the guy doing the job is not keenly aware that things can go wrong, then sooner than later they will."

The words belong to Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) coach at Maersk Drilling, Bo D. Johansen, and the short statement sums up a substantial part of the barrier that separates Maersk Drilling from its promised land: zero incidents.

Asking the questions
In the job since 2010 and a veteran with the Maersk Group, Johansen, or one of his three colleagues, is called to the rigs to help improve safety when things, for one reason or another, start slipping. He will stay on the rig for a couple of weeks and look for the issues, which is often the shortcut to the solution.

"My job is not to put my foot down or to dictate this or that. It is working with the people on the rig to figure out what is wrong and then asking: Why do you think it is like that?" Johansen says.

"I know our other rigs, I know HSE and what makes people tick. That enables me to ask questions that can help people on the rig find a solution that they own, that they can work with and that will improve safety."

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"We can help when things are slipping ever so slightly on the rigs, and the guys can't put their finger on the issue," says Bo D. Andersen.

My job is not to put my foot down or to dictate this or that. It is working with the people on the rig to figure out what is wrong and then asking: Why do you think it is like that?

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BO D. JOHANSEN, HEALTH, SAFETY AND ENVIRONMENT COACH

The impact is difficult to measure. There are many factors to consider, but in 2011, the year after the coaches began visiting rigs, Maersk Drilling saw the lowest number of incidents in the company's history. Then the number increased again in 2012; an unacceptable development.

Fighting complacency
"It's really hard to say why that is, and it will always be more than just one thing, but I believe a lot of it has to do with complacency," Johansen says.

Here, he stops the interview to explain that complacency is not necessarily a negative thing. Complacency is what enables us to drive a car without thinking about it, once we have had some practice. Starting out, of course, it takes complete concentration on the road, the accelerator and white knuckles on the steering wheel.

"Complacency is great. It gives us the ability to walk, breathe and speak at the same time. But there is no room for complacency on a rig, because it also means that we start losing focus when we have carried out the same tasks a number of times, which can lead to carelessness. When the HSE coaches are called in, it is usually because complacency is beginning to show," Johansen says.

"In order to counter that, we try to encourage everybody to work in a state of what we call 'chronic unease'. This means constantly having in the back of your mind that things can go terribly wrong if you aren't 100% focused on the job."

Given these circumstances, will Maersk Drilling ever be able to reach zero incidents?

"Yes we will," Johansen says firmly.

"It is a long and tough road and it will take 100% focus from everybody. This is hard when you are also drilling a hole, fixing an engine, cooking a meal or doing something else on the rig. But it is the only way to do it. 100% focus on safety, nothing less."

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