Refinery Outreach Focuses on the ‘Why’ Behind Safety
The Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) team at Tesoro’s Salt Lake City Refinery has found that a message to contractors from loved ones can be a powerful incentive to stay focused on safety. The team reached out to the families of contractors during the refinery’s fall turnaround (TAR), inviting them to send words of encouragement and photos to serve as reminders of why it’s imperative to practice safety at all times. While gathering material from family members was only part of the leadership team’s safety strategy, refinery representatives said the turnaround resulted in the best safety performance for a TAR at Salt Lake City.
The refinery worked with EHS representatives at Tesoro’s headquarters to draft a letter to mail to contractors’ homes that explained the purpose behind the request for sources of inspiration. It outlined the nature of the six-week-long TAR and how the people who matter most to workers can influence the level of attention they devote to safety, enhancing the likelihood that they return unharmed each day. The letter’s main objective was to prompt conversations in contractors’ homes about working safely, whether family members provided any keepsakes or not. “It encouraged loved ones of our contractors to have a ‘safety stump speech’ with their working loved one prior to departing for the job,” said Will Snarr, EHS Manager at Salt Lake City. “We know that this safety discussion has more value than any motivation we can offer here.”
Roughly three dozen families responded to the letter, providing multiple photos and affectionate notes. The refinery’s EHS team put up a bulletin board in the lunch tent to display all the items. The team also used them to create a PowerPoint presentation that it showed during a weekly safety meeting. Site leaders recognized the potential of the mementos to motivate contractors, but urged them to leave thoughts of home in the tent, so they could concentrate entirely on the task at hand while in the refinery.
This unconventional approach to increasing safety awareness has gained the attention of employees and executives at contract companies that took part in the TAR. “I had safety professionals from companies comment that they had never seen anything like it before,” Snarr said.
The response from contractors and their families has given the Salt Lake City Refinery reason to consider using this sort of outreach during future TARs. Snarr acknowledged that sending the letter did require a lot of effort by refinery staff to track down names and addresses because contractors often don’t know beforehand who they will assign to a project. In the end, however, he said the results justified the time involved. “It set the stage early for contractors’ expectations about working at Salt Lake City. The goal was to recruit the family members of our workforce to encourage safe behavior and talk about safety at home, so that made the effort worthwhile.”