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Course 900 - Oil and Gas Safety Management

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Safety Management System (SMS) Basics

Tough-caring leadership
Commitment and leadership create successful safety cultures.

The Elements of a SMS

Whether we realize it or not, every company has a SMS. The question is, what does it look like? In some companies, the SMS is nothing more than loose collection of ill-thought-out programs and activities. Other companies, that understand the benefits, will develop an effective integrated SMS that include important elements and activities:

Click on the button to see important elements and activities that should be part of the SMS.

Elements of a SMS

  • Vision statement: Tells the world what the company would like to have accomplished in the future.
  • Mission statement: Tells the world why the company exists. It's purpose. What it does.
  • Goals and Objectives: Intended outcomes that support the mission and vision.
  • Policies: General guidance formulated and implemented by managers at all levels.
  • Programs: Describe coordinated strategies that support policy.
  • Plans: Give clear written (formal) guidelines on how to implement programs and policies. Includes long-term strategies and short-term tactics.
  • Processes: Make sure safety is integrated into operational processes.
  • Procedures: Ensure concise formal/informal step-by-step instructions.
  • Practices: Employee methods and techniques that help to protect employees from injury or illness.
  • Budgets: Funding that supports investment in all of the above.
  • Rules: Clearly stated specifications and performance standards.
  • Reports: Reflect process and measures results. Evaluates effectiveness of all the above.

Safety Culture

The most successful Safety Management System (SMS) includes an underlying safety culture that reflects long-term commitment to safety and tough-caring leadership.

Believe it or not, OSHA has a pretty good definition for a safety culture. OSHA defines a safety culture as a combination of an organization's collective safety attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, values, ways of doing things, and other shared characteristics.

Employers and employees see culture from different perspectives. From the employer's point of view, the company's safety culture is something to be managed, but if you ask employees to define the company's culture, they will likely tell you it's "just the way things are around here."

This first module will briefly explore commitment, leadership, and responsibilities, and take a look at some of the other important components that are necessary in an effective SMS and culture.

Read the material in each section to find the correct answers to each of the questions. After answering all questions, click the "Check Quiz Answers" button to see your score and a list of missed questions. To correct a question, return to the question, review the material, change your answer, and return to the last section page. Click the "Check Quiz Answers" again to recheck the results.

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Note: Videos and exercises in our courses are for information only and not required to view. Final exam questions will not be derived from the videos. OSHAcademy is not responsible for video content.

1. The most successful Safety Management System (SMS) includes a safety culture that _____.

a. makes a long-term serious commitment to safety
b. includes a vigorous statement of belief
c. encourages everyone to work safe
d. tells everyone management supports safety

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Real Safety Commitment

Real commitment is expressed in time and money.
Real commitment is expressed in time and money.

The success of your company's SMS depends on the willingness of top management to demonstrate a long term serious commitment to protect every employee from injury and illness on the job.

But how do you get it top management commitment if you don't already have it? Real commitment doesn't just appear out of thin air. Real commitment values safety.

Management commitment to safety will occur to the extent each manager clearly understands the positive benefits derived from their effort. Understanding the benefits will create a strong desire to do what it takes to improve the company's safety culture.

Managers who understand the positive benefits will more likely invest serious time and money into developing effective safety policies, programs, plans, processes, procedures, and practices. They will also display tough-caring leadership that includes accountability and recognition of performance.

Management involvement and commitment can be shown by:

  • allocating dedicated health and safety resources
  • setting clear expectations for health and safety performance
  • assigning and monitoring health and safety responsibilities
  • demonstrating active leadership

Bottom line: Serious commitment requires serious time and money.

2. When is it more likely that management will make a serious commitment to safety?

a. When they can control behaviors
b. When they understand the benefits
c. When they understand the costs
d. When they communicate regularly with OSHA

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Effective Safety Leadership

Tough-caring leadership
Be tough on safety because you care.

Every day, oil and gas workers, supervisors and managers have many opportunities to communicate and act in ways that demonstrate safety leadership. Unfortunately, these opportunities go unanswered because they are just not seen as real leadership opportunities.

We believe that a company's leadership is the most important asset it possesses. It's important that employers and managers understand that the simple expression of tough-caring safety leadership – having high safety standards because you care about the employee - can result in enormous benefits. The ability to perceive leadership opportunities improves the company's potential to succeed.

Tough-caring leaders also assume their workers, at all levels of the organization are good people trying to do the best they can with the skills they have.

Employees, on the other hand, do not always have the physical resources and psychosocial support needed to achieve the kind of results expected of them. Why is that? It is because they are not being provided with adequate physical resources (tools, equipment, machinery, materials, etc.) or the education, training, time, and consequences.

Effective leadership can overcome these challenges by providing the resources and training needed for their workers to excel.

3. Why do managers display tough-caring safety leadership?

a. They want to be seen as a tough manager
b. They have a zero-tolerance for safety
c. They feel a need to control situations
d. They care about their employees

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Accountability for Safety

No accountability: No safety
No accountability: No safety.

Accountability ranks right at the top with management commitment as a critical ingredient in a company's safety and health management system. Why do we behave the way we do in the workplace? Consequences. Why do we take the unsafe shortcut? Again, consequences play a factor.

Accountability may be thought of as establishing the "obligation to fulfill a task to standard or else." When you are held accountable, your performance is measured against specific criteria and consequences are applied appropriate to the level or quality of performance.

Click on the button below to see examples of how accountability was applied in ancient law.

Examples of Accountability in Ancient Law

Example: If a builder has built a house for a man and his work is not strong, and if the house he has built falls in and kills the householder, that builder shall be slain. (King Hammurabi of Babylon, 18th Century B.C.)

Example: "The ancient Romans had a tradition: whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible: he stood under the arch." (Michael Armstrong)

Management may impose all kinds of safety policies, programs, written plans, directives, rules, and training, yet if the appropriate application of effective consequences does not exist, desired safety behaviors will not be sustained. If employees do not believe they are going to be held accountable for their performance, the effectiveness of the safety management system will ultimately fail.

Click on the button to see six important elements that should be present in an employer safety accountability system:

Elements of an Accountability System

  • formal standards of performance;
  • adequate resources and psychosocial support;
  • a system of performance measurement;
  • application of effective consequences;
  • appropriate application of consequences; and
  • continuous evaluation of the accountability system.

If you believe there are weaknesses in your employer's accountability system, make sure to document the behaviors and conditions you see in the workplace that may be pointing to accountability system policies, plans, processes, procedures, and practices that are inadequate or missing. You can learn more about accountability systems in Courses 116 and 712.

4. What ensures an employer's safety management system will ultimately fail?

a. When management does not consult with OSHA
b. Accidents always result in reprimand
c. A lack of consequences
d. Zero tolerance for unsafe acts

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Developing Goals and Objectives

To make sure the safety management system is successfully designed, developed and deployed, it's important to write effective goals and objectives. Many companies treat goals and objectives as though they are the same, but they're not. Let's look at the differences and see some examples.


Goals short unstructured statements and are easy to write. They're nothing more than wishes. For instance, a goal might be to:

  • Designate a qualified safety person to coordinate the program.
  • Plan for safety using a written Job Safety Analysis.
  • Make regular wellsite safety inspections and conduct health monitoring.
  • Follow safety procedures and rules.
  • Provide on-going safety training.
  • Enforce safety rules and use appropriate discipline.


Objectives are much more than mere wishes. They are structured, action-oriented statements that describe a specific outcome. Objectives should be relevant, agreed-upon, important, and realistic. They should be written using clearly stated, measurable, observable, and time-sensitive terms that describe how to accomplish a specific outcome.

Click on the button to see the components of an objective.

A well-written objective should include the following components:

  • It starts with an action verb. (I.e., decrease, increase, or improve)
  • It describes observable results. (i.e, performance, behaviors, quantity, or quality)
  • Specifies a single key result. (i.e., The percentage of employees trained in PPE)
  • Results are quantifiable. Uses numbers to measure a desired change. (i.e., numerical, percentage)
  • Specifies a target date for accomplishment. (i.e., by end of the third quarter)

Examples of safety objectives include:

  • Increase the number of safety suggestions to 25 a month by July 31st.
  • Reduce the number of back injuries in the warehouse by 70% by the end of 2020.
  • Conduct safety training on lockout/tagout to all maintenance employees within three months.
  • Lower the number of injury accidents by 90% by the end of the fiscal year.

5. Which of the following is the best example of a safety objective?

a. Conduct regular safety inspections on the wellsite
b. Follow all safety rules and guidelines
c. Reduce back injuries on the wellsite by 70% by the end of June
d. Conduct accident investigations after injury incidents

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Writing Safety Policies

No accountability: No safety
Policies help everyone make decisions.

Safety policies help to set standards and guidelines for decision-making. They let managers, supervisors and employees make safety decisions with some degree of confidence without having to constantly check with "the boss". Managers, supervisors and workers know they are making decisions that conform to corporate safety policies.

Below are a number of points that would be good to adopt in your companies safety and health policy.

  • No job or no task is more important than worker health and safety.
  • A wellsite Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) will be conducted on all tasks with a potential safety or health threat.

  • Every procedure must be a safe procedure. Shortcuts in safe procedures by either foremen or workers must not be tolerated.

  • If workers observe any wellsite unsafe condition, which may pose a potential threat to their health or safety, they will immediately correct the situation when feasible or inform management.

  • Management has the responsibility to take adequate proactive precautions, comply with OSHA standards, and assure the safety and health of employees.

Writing Safety Programs

A safety program is a plan of action to accomplish one or more safety objectives. An effective safety program is designed around the processes, procedures, and practices normally assigned to employees and integrate safety-related decisions and precautions into them. Oil and gas contractors must initiate and maintain safety programs as necessary to comply with CFR 1926.20(b). See Module 7 for more information on Programs.

6. What is the primary purpose of writing a safety policy?

a. To give supervisors better control employee behaviors
b. To let supervisors make decisions without checking with the boss
c. To give everyone some idea about safety
d. To prevent unsafe decisions from being made

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It's important to understand who is responsible for safety on the oil and gas wellsite construction. According to OSHA, there are four employer roles or categories on a multi-employer wellsite:

  1. Creating employer: The employer that caused a hazardous condition that violates an OSHA standard.

  2. Exposing employer: This is an employer whose own employees are exposed to the hazard.

  3. Correcting employer: This is an employer who is engaged in a common undertaking, on the same wellsite construction as the exposing employer, and is responsible for correcting a hazard. This usually occurs where an employer is given the responsibility of installing and/or maintaining particular safety/health equipment or devices.

  4. Controlling employer: This is an employer who has general supervisory authority over the wellsite construction, including the power to correct safety and health violations itself or require others to correct them. Control can be established by contract or, in the absence of explicit contractual provisions, by the exercise of control in practice.

The controlling contractor assumes all obligations under the standards, whether or not he subcontracts any of the work [29 CFR 1926.16(b)].

To the extent that a subcontractor agrees to perform any part of the contract, he assumes responsibility for complying with the standards with respect to that part [29 CFR 1926.16(c)].

With respect to subcontracted work, the controlling contractor and any subcontractors are deemed to have joint responsibility [29 CFR 1926.16(d)].

7. Who assumes all obligations for safety on the wellsite whether or not he subcontracts any of the work?

a. The correcting contractor
b. The controlling contractor
c. The exposing contractor
d. The creating contractor

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Responsibilities (Continued)

Oil and gas companies should designate a competent and qualified safety representative to coordinate, implement, and administer the Safety Management System (SMS). The safety representative should be thought of as an internal safety consultant and should not be responsible for enforcing safety rules. Enforcement of safety rules is the job of line managers, not staff personnel. Responsibilities of the safety representative include:

  1. Understand potential job hazards and how to eliminate them.
  2. Conduct or assist with Job Hazard Analysis.
  3. Assure compliance with OSHA oil and gas safety and health standard requirements.
  4. Conduct regular job site safety and health inspections.
  5. Establish safety and health procedures.
  6. Coordinate regular safety and health training.
  7. Conduct or assist with Tailgate or Tool Box Talks.
  8. Maintain documentation of training, inspections, injuries and illnesses, and other safety records.
  9. Participate in accident investigations and implementation of corrective actions.
  10. Involve employees in the implementation of the SHMS.
  11. Create statistical reports that compare severity and frequency rates against prior records.

8. The oil and gas company should designate a competent and qualified safety representative to perform each of the following responsibilities EXCEPT_____.

a. conducting safety inspections
b. establishing safety and health procedures
c. enforcing safety rules
d. coordinating safety training

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The Supervisor's Safety Responsibilities

The supervisor's attitude plays an important part in obtaining or preventing the acceptance of safe and healthful work practices, policies, and procedures. It is the supervisor's responsibility to identify potential hazards, identify methods to control or eliminate wellsite hazards, ensure workers use safe and healthful work practices, and make sure everyone receives safety and health training to do their work.

Immediate supervisors should review, investigate, and take any necessary and appropriate action on all employee reports of hazards or potential hazards.

Related Employer Responsibilities

According to OSHA, employers also have these general safety responsibilities:

  1. Provide employees with sanitary and safe working conditions [29 CFR 1926.20(a)]
  2. Assign safety and health responsibilities [29 CFR 1926.20(b)].
  3. Give safety and health designees authority to correct hazards [29 CFR 1926.32(f)].
  4. Assure employees that they may voice safety and health concerns without fear of reprisal [29 CFR 1903.11(d)].

  5. Inform employees of hazards [29 CFR 1926.21(b), 29 CFR 1926.33, 29 CFR 1926.59, 29 CFR 1926.454, 29 CFR 1926 Subpart Z].

  6. Coordinate hazard communication with other employers on site [29 CFR 1926.59, 29 CFR 1926.65, 29 CFR 1926.652].

  7. Post the OSHA State or Federal Poster [29 CFR 1903.2(a)].

9. Who should review, investigate, and take any necessary and appropriate action on all employee reports of hazards or potential hazards?

a. Immediate supervisors
b. Exposing employer
c. Safety staff
d. Safety officers

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Continuous Improvement
Countries and Companies have been transformed using the PDCA Cycle.

Continuous Improvement

It's important to the overall success of the safety management system that the company makes a commitment to continuous improvement of all aspects of safety and health.

One successful change management technique is to use the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) Cycle. (Click on the image to the right) It was first developed by Dr. Walter Shewhart, and later applied by W. Edwards Deming, the father of total quality management, to transform the industry of Japan after World War II. He promoted the PDSA Cycle that was partly responsible for Japan's meteoric rise in manufacturing. He believed that statistics hold the key to improving processes, and that management must take responsibility for quality in the workplace because management controls the processes.

The PDSA Cycle contains four important steps:

  1. Plan - plan what you're going to do
  2. Do - test the plan small scale
  3. Check - analyze the results to see if the change works
  4. Act - fully implement the change, or abandon it

You can learn more about this important topic in OSHAcademy Course 700, Safety and Health Management, Module 8.

10. Why did Deming believe that management must take responsibility for quality in the workplace?

a. Management controls the processes
b. Management is required by OSHA to do so
c. Management writes the rules
d. Management administers consequences

Check your Work

Read the material in each section to find the correct answer to each quiz question. After answering all the questions, click on the "Check Quiz Answers" button to grade your quiz and see your score. You will receive a message if you forgot to answer one of the questions. After clicking the button, the questions you missed will be listed below. You can correct any missed questions and check your answers again.