Health, Safety & Environment

Safety for personnel and the environment is a major concern of the international offshore industry. Although the need for greater safety was recognized since the early 50s, safety was typically viewed as a local problem. In the 1970s the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) developed and implemented a multi-prong strategy to ensure a safer workplace on rigs and facilities. The program resulted in a 96% reduction in serious drilling accidents on the US Continental shelf alone. In the 25 years from 1977 to 2002, the serious accident rate per 200,000 man-hours worked has plummeted from 11.83 to 0.50. IADC Safety Committees have worked diligently to improve industry attitudes toward safety, and build commitments for a safer workplace for all. In addition IADC volunteers have developed numerous practical rigsite tools aimed at fostering safe behavior by workers. To increase buy-in at the rigsite, IADC developed a Rig Safety Recognition Program though which member companies could recognize exemplary safety performance by rig crews. In 1991, then-Chairman, Alain Roger of Sedco Forex, gave IADC a bold challenge to reduce industry accidents by half in 5 years. The industry more than met his challenge, cutting overall industry accidents per 200,000 man-hours from 3.43 to 1.40. Offshore the accident rate was slashed from 2.32 to 1.02. Also during the 1990s, IADC introduced two landmark training programs. Each has established firm industry-defined benchmarks for training and IADC accredits institutions that meet or exceed the program’s tough requirements. Since their introduction in 1994, RIG PASS and WellCAP have certified 91,000 workers and accredited numerous well-control training programs worldwide. WellCAP schools operate in 240 locations.

Member companies of IADC and a greater number of dedicated individuals have contributed to this vital effort. Their achievements benefited from the strong support and cooperation of the operating companies. The implementation of IADC safety programs worldwide has saved countless workers from injury and has protected valuable resources and equipment from damage or loss. 

Recognizing the pioneering efforts of the following organization that contributed to the development of the offshore industry: 

International Association of Drilling Contractors

Offshore California in 1981, Phillips Petroleum paved the way for the use of production platforms as mariculture centers. Driven by a need to frequently clean platform legs of 3-foot thick layers of mussels, Phillips tackled the challenge of introducing mussel harvesting as a business. Bob Meek of Ecomar, Inc. worked with Phillips’ Greg Stephens and Texaco’s Dominic Gregorio to turn the $100,000 annual expense of platform leg cleaning into a commercial success.

Spurred by the early success of the venture, the industry has been working with various mariculture companies and educational institutions to conduct feasibility studies of establishing offshore finfish commercial mariculture operations in the Gulf of Mexico. It is felt that the industry’s many offshore cultures can play a major role in meeting the public’s growing demand for healthful seafood.

Recognizing the pioneering efforts of the following people and companies who contributed to the development of this technology:

Dr. Robert Meek/Ecomar, Inc.
Greg. A. Stephens, Dominic Gregorio
Phillips Petroleum, Texaco (now Chevron)

Margaret McMillan, founder and president of McMillan Offshore Survival Technology, has been involved in aquatics as a competitor, teacher, trainer and program innovator for many years. She is internationally recognized as an expert in the field of sea survival technology. Before forming her company Ms. McMillan was a professor and coordinator of women’s physical education and assistant dean of women. She earned her Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Texas and has done advanced study at the University of Southern California.

Through her efforts, thousands of offshore oil workers, helicopter pilots, government employees, law enforcement officers, corporate executives, barge and dock personnel, power boat operators and air medics have been trained. In addition, Ms. McMillan has consulted with sea survival experts in the U.S. Coast Guard, Navy, Army, Air Force, Marines, the U.K. Royal Navy, and the Russian government.

As a result of her pioneering efforts in aquatic safety and survival at sea training programs, Ms. McMillan has been the recipient of the following awards and honors:

  • The U.S. Coast Guard Distinguished Service Award
  • The Gulf Coast Safety and Training Group’s highest honor, the Distinguished Leadership and Service Award,
  • National Cooperation in Aquatics, National Honor Award
  • U.S. Marine Safety Association’s first Annual Safety Award

Ms. McMillan has contributed to improvements in workvests, life jackets, and inflatable life vests. She spearheaded the development of the Marine Survival Training Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and served as a consultant to that center. She was a founding member of the International Association for Sea Survival Training and is now an honorary lifetime member in that organization, as well as the U.S. Marine Safety Association. Sadly, she passed away in 2016.

Recognizing the following individual that contributed to the development of this technology: 

Margaret McMillan

In the early days in the offshore industry, workers were transported to platforms or drilling rigs by boat. Offshore facilities were usually equipped with a knotted rope suspended from an overhead beam. Once the boat was alongside the structure, each person would try to grab the knotted rope when the boat was on the crest of a wave and swing over to the boat landing. This was a tricky maneuver and resulted in a number of accidents and serious injuries.

In 1955, Billy Pugh developed his “Billy Pugh Net” for safe transfer of personnel between boats and platforms/rigs by crane. The Billy Pugh Net gained acceptance very quickly and is still the standard of the industry. The Billy Pugh Co. also developed other personnel safety devices including flotation work vests and litters. They also developed the recovery nets used to retrieve Apollo astronauts from the ocean in emergencies.

Rig structures are artificial reefs. They provide natural habitats and ideal environments for marine life as well as enhance fishing and recreational diving. Congress encouraged the environmental and economic benefits of retaining selected redundant structures by unanimously passing the National Fishing Enhancement Act of 1984. The US Department of the Interior–Minerals Management Service–developed their supportive policy in 1985. Still later, Louisiana and Texas unanimously passed laws similar to the federal statute. The first intentional artificial reef was created in 1979 when an experimental subsea production template was relocated from offshore Louisiana to Franklin County, Florida. Tenneco made several donations of structures to Florida and Louisiana in the early 1980s. Companies donate their structures to the state and may share some of their savings from traditional removal costs. By 1998, more than 100 redundant platforms have become reefs with a benefit to the states of $13 million.

Recognizing the pioneering efforts of the following people and companies who contributed to the development of this technology:

Dana W. Larsen, James “Jim” Morrison, Villere C. Reggio, Jr., Eugene Shinn, Carl Sullivan, Michael “Mike” Zagata – Chevron, Exxon (ExxonMobil), Lousiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries: Artificial Reef Program, Tenneco, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department: Artificial Reef Program, U. S. Department of the Interior: Minerals Management Service

In the mid 1960’s, DuPont developed an in-house work place safety program to prevent injuries by increasing safety awareness and encouraging communication between each other about safety. The program was designated as the Safety Training Observation Program or “STOP” and proved to be highly effective. When DuPont acquired Conoco, they implemented it in the oilfield and in turn Conoco started requiring their employees, vendors and contractors to use it. Founded on a behavior-based safety approach, together with self-study by all in the work place including supervisors and management, it soon showed significant results in reduced unsafe practices, non-lost-time incidents and especially lost-time incidents. Since the program is generic in nature, it was easily spread throughout the oilfield with Conoco leading the way to even non Conoco suppliers, vendors and contractors.

Amos Smith, working for Conoco at that time, was a leader in bringing the program to the oil and gas industry. He participated in the program in the Gulf of Mexico in the early 1980’s and then implemented it in Conoco’s affiliated companies in Dubai during the mid 80’s, and in Venezuela in the mid 90’s. Both programs were effective in improving and maintaining safety performance of the units.

Since then, the program has been adopted by thousands of companies and government organizations worldwide, resulting in many prevented injuries and loss of life, not to mention the impact in real dollars and cents.

Recognizing the pioneering efforts of the following individuals and organizations that contributed to this technology:

David Branch, George Brown and Amos Smith Conoco (now ConocoPhillips) and DuPont

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