Sara Landon
Executive Director
INERCO Consultoría México
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View from the Top

Technology to Take Center Stage in Training Post-COVID-19

By Peter Appleby | Thu, 10/01/2020 - 09:23

Q: What are the challenges Mexico’s oil and gas industry will face in implementing new health protocols in the post-COVID-19 world?

A: COVID-19 does not change the fact that the successful implementation of a culture of safety within companies or assets will be the key factor in reducing occupational risks. A major change is that with the arrival of COVID-19, now more than ever, safety is a cooperative pursuit. It is clear that my safety affects and depends on your safety.

As a result, it is possible that safety awareness practices will increase over time. On the other hand, the rapid response to any symptom of the virus from workers opens the way to a new scenario in occupational health surveillance. But in any case, INERCO does not foresee sweeping changes in safety standards in the oil and gas industry as a result of COVID-19 because standards in HSE are generally already high.

 

Q: How will INERCO adapt technologies for training purposes in the new normal in which cost will play a larger role?

A: INERCO had already entered a new era in delivering training to clients. The use of gamification, virtual reality, e-learning and neurosafety are part of this new approach to training. The emergence of COVID-19, which has prompted teleworking, only increases the demand for this new approach from our customers.

The INERCO Group is aware of the industrial and investment reality in which it operates at all times. Today, managing environmental issues means being up to date not only with applicable regulations but also with the way in which compliance is made compatible with the reality of any investment project. At INERCO, we provide training solutions that optimize the two most precious resources in any professional and business project, which are the monetary cost and the time required. We do this by combining the latest technologies available, such as webinars, online tutoring, gaming and the like, with our know-how in environmental management.

 

Q: What is the new environmental and industrial risk that training services will need to cover in the new normal?

A: The world of environmental and industrial risk management changes rapidly and continuously requires the knowledge and participation of new technological and scientific disciplines. There are areas of risk with significant challenges that we can put into distinct groups. First comes environmental challenges. In the last few years, the importance of the environmental resilience of operations has been widely recognized. Another is process safety challenges. High specialization and levels of understanding are required for asset management and asset integrity. Added to this are the challenges we see in occupational health and safety. Behavioral-based safety training and human factor engineering are innovative, highly efficient tools for preventing accidents in the workplace, including the risks associated with COVID 19 and the challenges in physical safety, in which cybersecurity plays a leading role today.

 

Q: How vital will sustainability and environmental protection be in the post-COVID-19 economic environment?

A: There is no doubt COVID-19 is changing our way of life, both in the personal and professional spheres in a much more profound way than we may have realized. Issues such as teleworking or internet sales have taken an unprecedented quantitative and qualitative leap. In this sense, environmental management has not been left behind: we have seen, for example, that levels of pollution in large cities improved with the consequent slowing down of human activity during quarantine. After the pandemic has passed, the priority will be economic reactivation. Society is going to demand that it be tackled with the best environmental parameters, which means having a clear commitment to sustainability that has a positive impact on society. Phrases like the decarbonization of the economy, the electrification of transport or the sustainable circular economy are increasingly used in our daily lives.

 

Q: How can community management continue to work for the benefit of Mexican citizens and the industry?

A: Today, every investment project in Mexico’s oil and gas industry must have, from its conception, a grounded analysis of the interaction with the project's neighbors or surrounding communities. We must be able to make them allies from the very start. The Mexican oil and gas sector. which is considered a backbone of the country, must identify itself and be proud of everything it does to improve the environments in which it operates. Therefore, adequate planning and implementation of social management is critical, and even more so if it occurs in unsafe areas. In unsafe or underdeveloped areas, oil and gas projects can become levers for change through the creation of jobs, the generation of economic activity, helping to raise levels of education in the region and much more. When the project’s neighbors are key allies, the project then becomes a win-win situation.

 

Q: How has environmental risk management in Mexico adapted following changes to management of the industry’s regulatory bodies?

A: A great deal of progress has been made in regard to the regulation of environmental risks. However, regulation has focused on compliance with the documentation required by regulators that does not always meet the technical requirements needed to ensure that the environment and safety are safeguarded. Documentation does not mean compliance and regulatory bodies do not have sufficient budgets or staff to review the documentation provided in detail.

A modern approach is in self-regulation, based on compliance with practical mechanisms that ensure the protection of the environment and the safety of people. We must watch over and monitor the systems and equipment that prevent something bad from happening and not only focus on the documents that make up the companies' policies and practices on environmental and safety issues.

 

Q: What are the in-demand training services that the company offers in Mexico?

A: Before the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the pressing issues for companies was the optimization of staff training costs. In many cases, this involved a large time investment and direct costs. Given the current situation, distance training has become even more important and it is advisable to have the support of companies that have the technical knowledge and the teaching methodologies applicable to each case and every client. This is where INERCO, with a global vision and knowledge of the local reality, can offer solutions with a focus on results and designed to suit the needs of our clients.

In Mexico, the Federal Labor Law states that it is in the social interest to promote and monitor training, coaching for and on the job, certification of labor skills, productivity and quality at work. There are various public policy mechanisms, such as the Distance Training Program for Workers, that work toward this end. Despite this, only one in three Mexican workers receives training throughout their employment.

Given this situation, new opportunities are opening up for INERCO to offer labor training services through online education. We use the latest technologies available, including webinars, online tutoring and gaming. Each of these methods has been shown to be highly effective in the learning process when supported by the multidisciplinary work of technical specialists in environmental matters, process safety or safety at work, as well as professionals who provide guidance for the application of the teaching methodologies.

Therefore, we believe that online training is a flexible learning modality that can be used for the acquisition of work skills and competences in various contexts.

 

INERCO Consultoría México delivers HSSEC consultancy, focused on safety training, safety assessment and environmental risk management. It is part of the INERCO Group, a multinational group that offers engineering.

Peter Appleby Peter Appleby Journalist and Industry Analyst