Q&A: Industry-First Drilling Rig Electrician Safety Course
Safety-related training organization People Factor Consultants (PFC) announced Aug. 17 that it had created an industry-first drilling rig electrician safety course, which places a major emphasis on non-technical human-factor skills.
While recognizing that drilling rig electricians typically develop the necessary knowledge and skills through in-house training, PFC stated that industry-standard training for the role did not exist prior to the creation of its course. The new safety program aims to standardize and refresh the capabilities of these oil and gas professionals, who are vital for the safe and effective operation of drilling rigs, in an effort to further enhance their competence and skill. In this article, PFC Technical Director Brian Crichton talks to Rigzone about the state of safety training for drilling rig electricians and outlines why non-technical skills are just as important as technical competency for these oil and gas workers.
Rigzone: How important are drilling rig electricians to the oil and gas industry and why is it essential that they receive adequate safety training?
Crichton: We consider it essential that all personnel working in the oil and gas industry receive adequate safety training. However, as the role of drilling rig electrician is key to effective operation of the installation, it is essential that they are trained and competent to make decisions both in normal and upsetting conditions to ensure the safety of the installation.
Rigzone: What inspired you to create the drilling rig electrician safety course and what does it entail?
Crichton: For some time now, People Factor Consultants have developed and presented a training course for Responsible Electrical Persons (REP). As experts in electrical safety, we recognized that this is a safety critical role on an installation and were aware that there were no existing training courses to help REPs take on the responsibilities inherent in the role. In particular, we noted the importance of non-technical skills within the REP role, i.e. making decisions, assessing situations, communicating, leading, working in a team, and managing stress (in-self and others). The REP course lasts five days and includes a number of simulator-based exercises where trainees can practice and test out both their technical and non-technical skills and receive feedback from the course facilitators.
The Drilling Rig Electrician (DRE) course was borne out of the same situation; there was a lack of formal training available for those in the role. So the REP course has provided the basis for the DRE training, in that it includes both technical information as well as non-technical theories in the classroom. These are then practised in PFC’s unique switchgear simulator during exercises. As with all of our courses, trainees receive feedback from the course facilitators on their performance.
Rigzone: Do you think that non-technical skills are more important than technical competency in this role?
Crichton: Non-technical skills are not more important than technical competency, rather they are equally important. At PFC, our overarching objective is to help businesses understand and achieve optimum workplace safety and performance. That optimum level can only occur when technical training is complemented by the non-technical (i.e. human factors). Research shows time and again that these human factors are vital for safe and effective performance, particularly in high-hazard environments – not least the oil and gas industry.
Rigzone: Was safety training for this role sufficient prior to the commencement of your course? How much will your new program help to ensure the well-being of workers in this sector?
Crichton: As far as we are aware, the DRE course is unique to PFC. The aim of the course is to enhance the skills of the trainees to improve safety and performance. The DRE may need to make critical decisions under stress – time pressure, risk, uncertainty – regarding the safety of people, equipment and the environment. Although technical capabilities are essential, it is the ability to perform effectively under stress that makes the difference to the safety of this role.
Rigzone: Do you believe the current low oil price will affect the number of participants that sign up to this course?
Crichton: There is no doubt that the current downturn in the price of a barrel of oil is having a global effect on the oil and gas industry. However, there should be no price to safety. The number of participants signing up to the DRE course may be influenced by an individual’s or organization’s priorities and financial constraints, but it is our belief that emphasizing both the technical and non-technical skills required to perform safely and effectively will benefit both the individual and the organization.
Source: People Factor Consultants
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