Rodrigo Nieto
General Manager
Falck Safety Services de México
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View from the Top

Role of Training in Promotion of Offshore Safety

Wed, 01/21/2015 - 14:27

Q: What degree of security awareness do you perceive among Mexican rig crews?

A: This has changed a lot. When I started out as a rig hand on an offshore platform, there was little respect for these matters. This culture had a lot of negative effects and unfortunately caused a lot of incidents. I can tell you about a case where interpreters were helping remove a flare boom. They strung the cable wrong and the boom failed. Since they were tied to the actual boom, they fell in the water and three people died. Why? Well, for starters, what is an interpreter doing removing a flare boom? Nowadays, people respect their job positions and there is better training as well. Overall, this is a safer industry, although that is debatable as well. There are some people who say that it used to be safer because people had to use their brains, whereas now staff members are trained to react in a specific way when faced with certain scenarios. One way or another, what we try to teach people here is safety behavior, meaning that I do not want you to just memorize security protocols but I actually want you to have a mentality focused on safety, on being safe.

Q: How would you describe the different types of activities currently taking place in your Ciudad de Carmen training facilities?

A: Basically, we offer a number of courses that are specific to our clients’ requirements. We have different training courses that have different modules while we can also design a specific training curriculum for certain situations. Some of the courses we deliver are based on the standards established by OPITO (Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organization), while others are not since we are also accredited by NOGEPA (Netherlands Oil & Gas Exploration & Production Association), STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers), JOIFF (Joint Oil Industry Fire Forum, part of the International Organization for Industrial Hazard Management), and other international standards. One of our best-selling courses is the T-BOSIET (Tropical Basic Offshore Safety Induction & Emergency Training). You could call it a foundation for the training that everyone should have. Within the T-BOSIET training, there are different modules such as first aid, safety induction, fire safety, or helicopter rescue and escape. For more advanced or more experienced employees, such as a safety officer who might be in charge of dispatching the helicopter on the rig, we offer more specific training which in this case would be HLO (Helicopter Landing Officer).

Q: How is it better for oil companies to let Falck provide these safety services instead of executing them in-house?

A: It is actually safer to outsource it. I do not want to burn any of my good clients but I have had clients that did a lot of their safety training in-house and their accident rate spiked. They did not take long to realize that they were doing something incorrectly. Why not just leave it to the professionals and outsource it? In terms of liability and insurance, it is better for them to just say, “This is not my responsibility. I trained my personnel though a recognized yet external institution.” I will put it this way: it is the difference between cooking a great steak in a common gas stove and cooking it in a professional broiler. Falck just does this better, as we are professionally and specifically trained to do what we do, and we do not cut any corners or skip any steps.

Q: What are the main development targets of Falck Safety Services Mexico in the Mexican market for the next year?

A: There are still a lot of prospective key clients that we have not targeted yet. We have merely scouted the area a little bit and made the basic first steps. This will definitely be the year when we target the bigger clients, the bigger accounts, and the bigger money. We are taking very careful and firm steps so that we will not drop any negotiations. We sell to every client that we visit; we do not miss a single one, and we want to keep that streak going. The coming changes in the industry will obviously affect this process; I hope that the rest of the national companies come to realize that they are going to have to step it up a notch, because whenever the international companies enter the market, they are going to bring with them the best- trained personnel. Worldwide, these companies are trained by Falck. The numbers do not lie, we trained 300,000 people last year, and we are a fast-growing company. In the international portfolio of the company, Mexico is a dot, but there are high expectations. We know that once the Mexican oil and gas industry booms, we have to be fully capable and fully operational.