There are no re-dos when it comes to rig safety

Trinidad Drilling Rig 121

Rig safety has come a long way over the last 30 years. Just ask John Meckert, Trinidad’s Vice President of HSE and QMS, whose years of experience in the industry have given him another level of respect for helping rig hands get home safely.

A professional engineer by trade, Meckert’s interest in safety began at the start of his career while working for Conoco, who at the time was owned by the industrial safety leader and STOP program founder, DuPont.

“Thirty years ago, if you looked at the past few decades’ safety statistics and safety culture, you couldn’t find a better company. I was fortunate to learn the ropes from them so early on.”

Putting rig safety into perspective

Trinidad Drilling
John Meckert, Trinidad’s Vice President, QMS and HSE

Meckert’s safety career developed over the years, eventually landing him the role of Area Manager for a drilling contractor in Yemen in the early 90’s. While in Yemen, one of the contractor’s Floorhands suffered a severe leg injury, which resulted in an amputation just below the knee.

“It was difficult and it happened for no good reason. When I went to the hospital to visit the young man, whom I knew would be affected by the injury for the rest of his life, I walked in the door to a dozen of his family members staring back at me, looking for answers. You don’t forget moments like that.”

Meckert earned a whole new perspective on safety that day.

“When you go through something like that, your view of safety changes. You start to look at safety differently than you do other parts of the business – if you don’t hit your financials, you can turn around and re-do.”

“If you have a fatality or someone has their leg amputated, there’s no going back. There are no re-dos.”

All experience is good experience

Soon after the incident, Meckert returned to the US to become the head of the safety department with the same drilling contractor. Admittedly, Meckert knew he had his work cut out for him. That year alone, the contractor suffered five fatalities, over 1,200 recordable incidents, and racked up roughly one lost-time injury (LTI) every three days. Meckert referred to this year and this role as the worst of his career.

Seeking help from industry safety experts, Meckert learned that every effective safety program had two consistent components:

  • a Safety Management System that focuses on reactive and proactive measures
  • visible management commitment from line management

Focusing on these two components, Meckert and his team were able to bring the contractor’s recordable rate of just under 15 down to just under three over the next six years.

“These were all important experiences in my safety career. Without them, I wouldn’t have gained the perspective I have today.”

Joining Trinidad’s safety leadership team

With 30 years of experience in his back pocket, Meckert joined Trinidad’s HSE team in 2015. A decision he believed was an easy one to make.

“I knew the people that were involved with Trinidad’s safety program before I started. Trinidad’s leaders don’t just leave safety to the safety department and I have a lot of respect for that.”

Trinidad reaches lowest TRIR in history

Almost two years since joining our HSE team, Meckert and his team are driving Trinidad’s safety record to new lows.

“Company-wide, we achieved a total recordable incident rate (TRIR) of 0.75 in 2016; meaning for every 100 workers, we injured less than one over the year. Although we’re proud, we’re always working towards an injury-free workplace.”

The entire team at Trinidad is passionate and emotionally engaged in getting everyone home safely. They understand what safety means to Trinidad’s rig crews and their families. It’s hard work, it’s every day, and it’s something you can’t lose focus on for a second.

Check back in a couple of weeks as Meckert explains how Trinidad just reached its lowest company-wide TRIR in history.

In the meantime, find out what our leaders in the field are doing to engrain safety in all their crews do:

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