Outsourcing Safety – Plains Perspective

Date PublishedApril 24, 2014
CompanyPlains Fabrication
Article AuthorTom McCaffery
Article TypeApril 2014 Issue
CategoryArticles, Oil & Gas
Tags, , , , ,
HUB SEARCHPlainsFabrication
PULSE Interactive

Outsourcing Safety – Plains Perspective

We continue to insulate our companies in order to protect our companies. All we are truly doing is fooling ourselves into a false sense of security.

We seem to be in love with outsourcing things we used to hire professionals to do. The most popular one nowadays is outsourcing our vendor safety audits. I am sure your company has been forced to go online and upload your safety and insurance information into the magic box in the cloud and an arbitrary score is assigned to you. I say arbitrary because standardized methods we build in computers to do the work of people don’t work in all scenarios. Anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of the questions we are forced to answer don’t apply to our company, and yet, our customer will only do business with us if we comply. It doesn’t make sense. It makes even less sense when you have an issue and all of a sudden there is no one to talk to. You upload information, it disappears, a score appears, and if you have a problem, there is nowhere to turn. You don’t know where the score came from, you don’t know if they realize some of those questions didn’t apply to your company, and if answering those questions honestly was the reason you scored so low.Outsourcing Safety

Here is a quick example: At Plains Fabrication, we have a strict policy that no person will work alone at any time, for any reason. Our employees are explicitly told our shop will not operate without at least two people working in a single department at one time. There also must be a supervisor, a safety representative, and a first aid person on our premises any time we operate equipment. NO EXCEPTIONS. I don’t think we can be anymore straightforward than that.

Outsourcing Safety

Going forward, we are light years ahead of the other countries not capable of handling internal issues with the same level of strength, determination, and openness as us.

Outsourcing SafetyThus we enter the digital age when outside agencies become involved, and people in our safety department start clicking checkboxes to ensure we all conform to a company’s standard. Now, we (meaning Plains Fabrication) upload our safety program, which has a C.O.R. (meaning highest standard possible) from MHSA (an independent third party safety association), and we send our “Work Alone Policy” so everything should be straight forward, right? This Work Alone Policy, along with all of our other policies, was given the highest endorsement from the MHSA. It should have been easily accepted, but instead, a faceless computer somewhere in the United States immediately rejected it. To make a long story short, we have a failing grade with our customer, because we refuse to write a Work Alone Policy. Even after we explained the problem to several people at multiple companies, the only official response we received was, “You failed to explain what would happen if one of your employees was in a situation where they were working alone.” The explanation to that response was, “It would never happen, because no one works alone at Plains under any circumstances,” but it was not good enough for the service provider who assured us the customer was informed and made the final decision.

We continue to insulate our companies in order to protect our companies. All we are truly doing is fooling ourselves into a false sense of security. We are downsizing important departments and trying to make it possible for less people to accommodate more work. Being a businessman, I understand most companies don’t make money by having industry approved, well thought out safety programs. Most of us don’t make money in our QC, document control, accounting, drafting, scheduling, maintenance, or project management departments either. These are all functions that don’t make us any money at the end of the day, but they can save us money. They can ensure we are selling quality products our customers want to pay for, and they can ensure all of our employees go home safe at the end of the day. They are vital functions, but companies are outsourcing more and more of these functions and getting poor quality, less accurate information, and are exposing themselves to major issues down the line. It appears common sense just isn’t so common. Do you know you can now hire another company to essentially fool the information companies systems? You need to hire an expert in the third party company’s software to get a passing grade. The integrity of the system is compromised, and I just don’t think that is right.

On that note, we have had a string of articles focusing on issues and problems. As a manager, it is generally what you spend most of your day focusing on. In upcoming articles, I would like to focus on some positive things. There are a lot of positive things happening today, and I think it would be wrong if we don’t send some positive vibes out into the world.

A Call to Arms… A Vision for a Stronger Canadian Manufacturing Industry

Tom McCaffery
General Manager

Outsourcing Safety






Originally published in the

April 2014 Issue of Oilfield PULSE