How Simple can simplification be?

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How simple is Simplification? Well, we’ll tell you – for you it’s really simple – all the hard work has been done by Step Change in Safety, the Simplification steering group and the members’ organisations who ran the pilots. After hearing the feedback from you, the workforce, to make the permit process more simplified, it was evident that there was a need to make toolbox talks better quality and more efficient, and make observation cards less of a numbers game, so Step Change stepped up. That was more than a year ago now, and what’s changed? Well, initially it was decided that the Toolbox Talk (TBT), dynamic risk assessment (DRA) process and a single observation card (OBS) were going to be the most realistic place to start to standardise. The Simplification steering group, supported by trade unions and the Health and Safety Executive, created two working groups: Tools and Processes and Pilot Site and Engagement. The Tools and Processes group looked at what the oil and gas industry was using, as well as researched what was used in other industries, including military, police and fire services. The draft TBT, DRA and OBS were completed on April 4, 2016, and called ‘Safe Working Essentials’. The Pilot and Engagement working group identified six sites to embrace and carry out the initial first phase including: Golden Eagle (Nexen), Hummingbird (Wood Group), Forties Pipeline (BP), Barrow (Centrica), Clipper (Shell) and Heather (EnQuest), with more than 1,500 Safe Working Essentials delivered to the assets.  The first pilot to go live was Nexen’s Golden Eagle Platform, which was led by Gary Geraghty, HSE Specialist for Nexen and member of the Simplification steering group. Nexen also sits on the Step Change in Safety Leadership Team (SCLT).  Gary said: “Critical to the success of the Simplification pilot were the steps taken prior to the trial starting, including a full risk assessment and sharing the project’s aims and objectives widely within the organisation to make sure they were understood by all involved. “This was achieved through regular weekly calls and online questionnaires, which allowed offshore personnel to provide relevant feedback throughout the trial period. Monthly forums were also used to reach all contractors to communicate the trial’s progress. “It was made clear who the main points of contact were, how to reach them and how to incorporate feedback into the process. Golden Eagle submitted more than 150 pieces of feedback, which have been incorporated into the new version currently being piloted.” From initially raising awareness of the pilot’s purpose among all Nexen personnel on Golden Eagle, to its implementation, the project was delivered on schedule. Once the pilot scheme was over, feedback was collected again and more than 240 pieces were received from all sites, with approximately 190 of them resulted in changes to the tool in terms of design, formatting and wording – Step Change and the steering group were listening. From all feedback collected across all six pilot sites there were also guidance documents created with supporting FAQs and a training video was produced. Les Linklater, Executive Director of Step Change in Safety, said: “Simplification was always going to be challenging for Step Change and the steering group, however, the industry has taken part in the pilot process and feedback suggests that we are delivering the right tools to make the job less congested and more dynamic. “We have to believe in our workforce and believe that they know when, where, who, what and how to make an appropriate and important safety observation. “We are now looking at the next phase of the process, not only do we have 12 sites using our TBT, DRS and OBS, but we are also looking at what we can do next with permit-to-work and other offshore processes. “We plan to ‘go live’ with the initial Safe Working Essentials Tool in 2017.” For more information about the Safe Working Essentials Tool, or to find out more about Simplification, please head to or email