The last time an employee missed time due to a job-related injury at our natural gas plant in Worland, Wyo., the Beatles were wrapping up their first U.S. tour. The year was 1964.
Worland’s safety history is a dramatic illustration, but hardly an isolated example of the safety culture that permeates Devon’s field and plant operations. For instance, our Beaver Creek natural gas plant, also in Wyoming, celebrated 20 accident-free years in 2008.
Additionally, our plant in Bridgeport, Texas, was honored in 2010 with the Pinnacle Award for Chemical Transportation Safety by Union Pacific Corp. The award recognizes safe loading practices and safe handling of natural gas products.
These honors reflect Devon’s companywide commitment to safety. That commitment is manifested in a variety of ways. Among them:
· Any employee is authorized to stop a work project if he suspects that an unsafe condition exists.
· Supervisors provide their employees and contractors with the resources and time to plan activities in a way that significantly reduces potential injuries.
· Supervisors also embrace and communicate a zero-incident philosophy.
The Worland gas plant, built in 1950, processes natural gas and extracts propane, butane and natural gasoline. Devon has been its operator since 1995. Because it is a smaller operation whose employees work closely together, the Worland plant is characterized by a family atmosphere. “We watch out for each other,” plant operator Mike Bear said.
That sentiment is shared throughout Devon’s field operations, according to the findings of a recent safety survey that Devon solicited of its employees. More than 3,500 employees responded. The answers submitted by field personnel demonstrated a culture of being actively concerned for co-workers’ safety and well-being, said Richard Luedecke, vice president for Devon’s Environmental, Health and Safety group.
Luedecke oversaw the company’s Bridgeport plant during the period it received the Pinnacle Award for safe rail transportation of natural gas. Several years earlier, the plant received some safety violations, which resulted not only in staffing changes, but also in new criteria for filling certain key positions. That criteria was designed for longer-term results. Based on the new criteria, the plant hired two people who had no natural gas experience but who paid keen attention to details and documentation.
“We have never had a single violation since we hired those two guys,” Leudecke said.