Safety first

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Explore Newsletter: March 2013
4/24/2013

EHS shifts gears, rolls out new Vehicle Operation and Safe Driving Guidelines to regions worldwide

By 2014, Apache vehicles around the world will be equipped with the latest in auto accessories. Before visions of trendy grille covers, fog lights or running bars come to mind, let’s think safety.

In coordination with Apache’s new Vehicle Operation and Safe Driving Guidelines, next year all company vehicles will be outfitted with GPS- and speed-monitoring devices, as well as technology to monitor, evaluate and record driving performance. These new accessories focus on the safety of employees and contractors and are but a few of the safety standards introduced in the guide.

“There’s nothing more important than sending your people home safely at the end of the day,” said Jon Graham, Apache’s vice president of Environmental Health and Safety. “If a driver becomes stranded, he or she also can be located and assisted through this device.”

The company’s Vehicle Operation and Safe Driving Guidelines protocol was set in motion about nine months ago. During culture surveys with the regions in mid-2012, John Williams, EH&S director of global health, safety and emergency response, realized some groups were struggling to put together driving guidelines that could encompass all company vehicles.

“We had been receiving inquiries from regions about the expectations from corporate; they asked for more direction,” Williams said. “This was an opportune moment.”

EHS seized that opportunity to step up employee safety and safe-driving performance, and Williams began to work with the regions and New Ventures to draft guidelines that could be applied globally. EH&S analyzed statistics from Argentina, Egypt and Canada, where vehicle monitoring devices have been in use the last couple of years, and confirmed all three regions have seen a markedly reduced number of incidents.

“Vehicle incidents are one of the top employee safety risks throughout the company,” Graham said. “Safety is part of our core values, and we take it very seriously.”

Though driving guidelines were followed at Apache’s Central, Permian, Canada and Argentina regions – areas with the most company-assigned vehicles and highest mileage rates – the rules were region-specific and had not been updated since the company’s recent growth. Australia, North Sea and Offshore – regions with few company vehicles – did not have prepared guidelines.

“With the scope of Apache so much wider today, it may be hard to fit guidelines across the world,” Graham, said. “But the guidelines will be flexible to adapt to the local needs.”

The new guidelines were finalized early this year and posted on the EH&S intranet page.
The guidelines include:

  1. Applicability
  2. Management responsibility
  3. Driver qualifications
  4. Driver responsibility
  5. Vehicle incident responsibility
  6. Distracted driving
  7. Use of company vehicle
  8. Post-incident drug testing
  9. Vehicle separation from processing equipment
  10. Vehicle monitoring devices
  11. Miscellaneous vehicle operation guidelines

The new guidelines declare that all texting, emailing, dialing and data entry be done off road.
 
 
Equipment like this speed-monitoring device now in use in Argentina will be installed in all company vehicles by 2014.

Important changes outlined in the guide can be found in the Distracted Driving and Use of Company Vehicle entries, Graham noted. The new guidelines strictly prohibit using a cell phone – unless using a hands-free Bluetooth device – or entering data onto a GPS unit while operating a vehicle in motion. Texting, emailing, dialing and data entry all must be done off road.

“These guidelines also apply to all employees renting a car for business purposes,” Williams said. “This is primarily for the operating regions, but we encourage all employees and their families to follow the guidelines for their personal use as well.”

Procurement, IT and EH&S are researching GPS units to find the best device for Apache.

The transition to the new guidelines and devices will occur throughout 2013, Graham said. Vehicles that will be in use longer than one year will be retrofitted with the device – likely at the vehicle’s next service. And all new vehicles will be fit prior to delivery to Apache. EH&S expects 100-percent compliance by 2014.

“This is not just an EH&S goal,” Graham said. “This is a company expectation from the Office of the CEO.”

Williams noted that no safety device is as good as properly thinking about the situation and focusing on the road. “The new electronic devices aren’t enough,” he said. “We need to train our people to consistently and effectively use their best safety device – their brain.”

EH&S staffers will present the new guidelines to the appropriate employees and contractors to ensure all facets of the Vehicle Operation and Safe Driving Guideline are understood.

“We are taking a proactive role in promoting EH&S performance to enhance our safety culture,” Graham said. “Anything we do as a company, any decisions we make, we will be thinking about EH&S issues early on.”

The new Vehicle Operation and Safe Driving Guidelines is now available on the EH&S intranet page.

Also this year, EH&S introduced the APACHE CORPORATE EH&S NEWSLETTER to increase awareness of environmental, health and safety issues.

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