Rodrigo Nieto
General Manager
Falck Safety Services de México

The Human Factor in Industrial Safety

Wed, 01/20/2016 - 16:17

Without safety, there would be no industry. This is the contention of Falck’s General Manager, Rodrigo Nieto, and the events of recent years have illustrated the merit in his claim. Disasters on oil rigs not only involve danger for workers and substantial financial woes, but also have a pervasive impact on the environment, company share prices, and other far-reaching effects on a company’s health. The recent changes that occurred in the industry in response to the drop in oil prices, and the consequent increase in employee turnover have also negatively impacted safety statistics in 2015.

According to Nieto, the biggest safety hazard is, by far, lack of knowledge. In fact, 90% of all accidents can be attributed to human error, and occur predominantly due to lack of knowledge surrounding operational safety, rig evacuation procedures, or major emergency response. In order to address this gap, Falck has this year introduced a new course called Major Emergency Management, which Nieto believes will revolutionize the industry in Mexico. The course consists of highly specialized training, is taught by some of the world’s most qualified instructors, and includes a rig control room simulator in order to provide feedback on critical reactions.

The variety of courses offered by Falck in Mexico are adapted to the country’s environment as a direct response to client needs. “Our close relationships with our clients allow us to understand their challenges and respond to them accordingly,” says Nieto. Training courses are adapted based on local industry requirements and, in Mexico, Falck has also adapted to PEMEX’s unique conditions. In terms of Round One, Nieto has high hopes that the entry of new private players will have a positive impact on Falck’s business. The company is adopting a cautious strategy in response to the changes imposed by the reforms, and is currently waiting for companies to enter the market before making any decisions regarding the targeting of new deepwater clients. “The moment any of the major IOCs come in, we will be fully prepared to attend to their needs. Until then, we are examining different possibilities,” he states.

Nieto acknowledges difficulties as a result of lack of clarity surrounding ASEA and its issuing of regulation. “It is one thing to win a contract to be able to drill in a certain block, but beginning drilling operations is another topic entirely,” Nieto warns. “As long as ASEA continues to remove red tape and convoluted processes, this should allow for more investment, but if it chooses instead to intensify the system with more bureaucratic procedures, companies are expected to pull out of the bidding rounds.” In this way, Nieto places great importance in ASEA’s creation of a set of comprehensive, fair guidelines for the industry

The company expects to open two or three training centers across the country. “The locations of these centers will depend on the industry, but so far, several options have been identified, like Tabasco and Veracruz, which constitute Mexico’s future hub for deepwater activities,” says Nieto. “Tamaulipas is also a location of interest, and Sonora holds promise, as Falck also offers training for the mining industry. However, the company expects to maintain caution when selecting areas to open new offices due to the high cost implication this endeavor represents.”

Although the market has seen a downturn in recent years, Nieto is optimistic about Falck’s future in the Mexican oil industry. “We have all observed a decrease in industry activity, but we understand that this is an entirely cyclic situation,” Nieto asserts. “As a leader in the segment, the next challenge will be for the company to maintain this position, while simultaneously raising awareness of service provisions and gaining more contracts as the industry recovers.”