New Safe Working Essentials Tools launching Autumn 2019

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Safe Working Essentials tools were introduced back in 2016. The SWE tools standardised and simplified common elements of the control of work system such as toolbox talks, dynamic risk assessments and safety observation cards and allowed for a very rapid development and deployment of a standardised approach. But for this to continue successfully, further industry buy-in is critical.  


Simplification is a major step towards collaboration. The objective is to standardise, where possible, throughout the oil and gas sector. This will help eradicate the confusion and complexity surrounding safety initiatives. It will also eliminate repetition, reduce costs, be more sustainable and, ultimately, help to keep the workforce safe.


A key aspect of Simplification is to allow the workforce to get on with their work quicker and in a safer manner. Simplification is a compelling argument for cost efficiency and collaboration. However, difficulties may arise between operators and contractors in choosing one system to use as all members have already invested time and money in their own systems. A gap analysis was therefore conducted to review all oil & gas operator and contractor in-house documents and identify any overlaps, identify key themes and therefore highlight good practice.


To sustain safe working essentials, there will be a requirement for both operators and contractors to adopt the toolkit within their local control of work (CoW) processes and share the lessons generated to feed into a continual improvement network industry wide.

Due to the success of Simplification it was decided not only to review the tools currently in use, but to build on their success. Throughout the oil and gas industry there are many CoW systems, all have a similar look and feel. However, the SWE team at Step Change in Safety has collated many different CoW system fundamentals and through a gap analysis, has identified good practice for a number of CoW core elements. From there, the team has combined the good practice into one set of new SWE tools to enable the workforce to standardise what they do across the North Sea.  

For the effective delivery of control of work and completion of the task, the following steps were identified as key and have been incorporated into the new revision of SWE. The tools below are to replace and simplify what we do and are not intended as an add-on to what workers already do; 

Hazard Identification Card (NEW) – visit the worksite and identify the relevant hazards for the task in relation to the energy sources.

Task Risk Assessment (NEW) – after identifying the hazards, review the mitigations and controls that are required to ensure that the risks associated with the task are reduced to As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP).

Task Instruction (NEW) – the way that the task is documented should consider the hazards, risks, controls and mitigations. It should be written so that it outlines not just what is required to be undertaken, but also why.

TBT – the delivery of the TBT should be completed in a manner that generates the following actions; engagement, listening, questioning, confirmation and ensures that the team contribute with energy, concentration, commitment and understanding of the task. Key to the TBT is confirmation of understanding of all team members in their role and the requirement to stop the job if the situation changes at any time.

Dynamic Risk Assessment – at all times throughout the task the team should be monitoring closely for any situation changes that may require the team to stop the task and review the impact of the change.

Observation Card - Stop, Think, Act, Review. As we recognise that a change has occurred, the team should stop the activity and ensure they think through the implications of the change in the task. Once the risks have been assessed, it may be that the task has to have further control measures. These should be communicated to the team and documented on the observation card.  

Task Assurance (NEW) – for tasks that present the potential for serious injury, a greater level of assurance can be achieved by Task Assurance involving a discussion with the work team about what they are doing, mitigations that are in place and why/ how they are doing it.

After Action Review – the AAR allows the team the opportunity to review the recently completed task to identify any good practices and learnings that the team would recommend to the organisation. The AAR learnings should be communicated by using the Observation card to allow for the correct action.

Safe Working Essentials has been in operation for two years and Step Change in Safety is undertaking a review and asking you for feedback. This is a critical process for the workforce to, once again, take ownership of the tools and ensure that they are still fit for purpose.