Before Day’s End & Xi Safety Inc

Before Day’s End; this tremendous safety documentary has a personal connection to some of us at Xi Safety Inc and one of the injured workers.

TORONTO, Aug. 20, 2012 /CNW/ – 25,000 accidents are reported each year in the construction industry. Many of these are life-changing or even life-taking events. Before Day’s End, a new documentary film commissioned by CLAC, provides deeply emotional first-hand accounts from victims and family members, chronicling the details of five separate accidents and their devastating aftermath.

“I never had a meaningful conversation with him after that day,” says a father whose son was pinned and suffocated by a malfunctioning lift, leading to a coma, and eventually, death. “There was a point in time where I guess my prayers might have turned from ‘Let’s get him back’ to ‘Let’s let him go.’

“I can’t take that day back, I cannot reverse time”, says a young man who was seriously injured on a job site.

As the film progresses, its message becomes clear: There is much in our lives and our work that we take for granted. This poignant documentary helps its viewers become conscious not only of daily blessings, but of the importance of following safety precautions and of exercising care when working.

CLAC is an independent Canadian labour union representing over 50,000 workers in a wide range of sectors―construction, health care, service, transportation, manufacturing, and others. Based on principles that promote the values of respect, dignity, fairness, and integrity, CLAC’s approach to labour relations stresses membership advocacy, cooperation, and the long term interests of the workplace community.  CLAC Training is committed to supporting the overall health and safety of our members by providing courses that are in high demand in Canada’s rapidly changing workplace.

Video with caption: “New film “Before Day’s End” explores job site accidents”. Video available at:


Alberta Traffic Control Services

Traffic Control Services and Personnel are now available through Xi Safety Inc for Alberta road and infrastructure contractors.  In addition to certification our Flagging Traffic Control personnel are instructed in Best Practices for Traffic Control Operations for day and night work, have the correct safety equipment and PPE and possess construction experience.  We provide all back-office support that includes payroll and insurances.

For those seeking certification in traffic control courses, please  see our website


The Elevator Speech


Recently I had the opportunity to give a totally unrehearsed elevator speech to a inquisitive person while riding up to see another client. He saw a brochure that I was carrying and it piqued his interest. The conversation went like this…….”So, what does the Xi stand for in Xi Safety?” Without an ‘er’ or an ‘ah’ I immediately launched into my hook, replying, ” I help people and companies make the right choice when they arrive at a crossroad.” And then I stopped talking. After I delivered my hook it’s important to simply be quiet. You need to give the listener time to contemplate what you just said, get inquisitive, and want to know more. When they ask, “what do you mean,” they’ve invested in the conversation giving you permission to give them more details. Without the silence the hook won’t work.


Once his interest was shown, I didn’t jump on him with some boring sales pitch. I eased into the next part of the Elevator Speech with what I like to call the reel. I began to tell him how we do what Xi does, but didnt give away the movie. No good mystery movie starts out with, “the butler did it.” The movie keeps you in suspense until you’re dying to know. You want to do this too. A hook/reel combination like this will normally lead to the question, “what do you mean.” Now you’ve earned the right to give them details.

I went into slightly more detail regarding his query, “what does the Xi stand for in Xi Safety?” I was able to quickly describe that the “I” represents a person or a corporate entity and that the “X” represents a crossroad where both arrive at. Their decision, whether as managers who represent the Incorporate Entity or the Individual Worker will determine the safety culture of the company depending on what road they take. At Xi Safety, we help them make the correct path choice.

It turned out he was a project director for a midsized alternative energy company and asked for a card exchange, the brochure and stated he wanted to discuss what I had just elaborated on with his project team. I will follow up next week.


If YOU’VE DEVELOPED a good hook and reel you should now have them securely in a conversation. However, ALWAYS the mindset of “how can I serve you,” not “what can I sell you.” Remain focused on your listener’s needs, not on your needs. The more you give, the more you’ll receive.


What do traffic lights and gas masks have in common?


Not many folks have ever heard of Garrett Augustus Morgan even though most of us frequently usually use the latest version of one of his inventions many times a day.
Garrett A. Morgan

Garrett August Morgan, born March 24, 1877, the son of a slave invented and in 1923 patented the first intersection traffic signal that had the added feature that it could be manufactured cheaply. The Morgan traffic signal was a T-shaped pole unit that featured three positions: Stop, Go and an all-directional stop position. This “third position” halted traffic in all directions to allow pedestrians to cross streets more safely. His hand-cranked semaphore traffic management device was in use throughout North America until all manual traffic signals were replaced by the automatic red, yellow, and green-light traffic signals currently used around the world.

Morgan never went beyond elementary school. He did later hire a tutor to work with him on English grammar. This is most interesting because Cowboy Safety and other versions of 21st century safety depend heavily on the proper use of language.

Garrett Augustus Morgan photo On October 13, 1914 Morgan got a patent for his “safety helmet” as he called it. It was designed to filter out smoke and cool incoming air. The problem he addressed was that of firemen in Cleveland, where he lived at the time, being overcome by smoke. A test of his product came on July 24, 1916 when a tunnel explosion trapped 32 workers 200 feet underground. Rescuers went in and did not come out. Morgan and his brother went in and brought out many survivors.

Fire departments around the country purchased the device. Refined versions have had important roles in military combat. It was used by the U.S. Army in World War I to protect soldiers from chlorine gas fumes.

Morgan developed many other safety products. It was something that he felt compelled to do.

He was the founder of the Cleveland Call newspaper.

Morgan died on August 27, 1963.

courtesy of cowboy safety


3 Simple Ways to Cut your Incident Rate in Half

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Warning: These three things are so simple, I risk being scoffed at. However, workplace safety is impossible without them.

I’ve been working for a contractor on a fairly large oil sands producer’s construction project in Northern Alberta, and each week, every site HSE representative attends a large meeting. Various initiatives are discussed, and at the end of the meeting, each contractor who had an incident is expected to get up in front of the audience to share any incident related learning opportunities.

In about 8/10 of these workplace incidents, the injured person or parties involved are sent for post-incident Alcohol & Drug testing. In many cases, these workers were not under the influence.

It certainly seems that most workers who were involved in these incidents were stone cold sober, so what other physiological factors could be at play here?


1. Water

Good old fashioned H2o could be the secret weapon for improving workplace safety. Recent research from the UK makes a great case:

“A Loughborough University study has revealed that even mild dehydration is equivalent to being over the drink driving limit in terms of driver errors.

Researchers at Loughborough University carried out a range of tests over two days on male drivers, using a laboratory-based driving simulator.  During the normal test there were 47 driving incidents, but when the men were dehydrated that number more than doubled to 101 – a similar number to what might be expected of someone driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  These included lane drifting, late braking and touching or crossing the rumble strip or lane line.”


Did you read that? When drivers were dehydrated, their rate of error more than doubled. The secret could be in “pee avoidance”. Drivers will consciously limit their liquid intake to avoid washroom breaks. This makes sense, if one is trying to save time on a long journey. In the workplace, it may seem rational for workers to limit their liquid intake if a trip to the washroom involves climbing down several flights of scaffolding, getting out of a fall protection harness and walking a few hundred metres to a portable toilet.

However, It could be that the feeling of bladder fullness makes an individual more aware of their body, and hence more aware of what’s going on around them.


2. Chewing Gum

The research on chewing gum suggests that it can help increase a person’s alertness by stimulating blood flow to the brain. Also, the act of chewing tricks the brain into an expectancy mode, where it anticipates the reward of a meal. Not all the research is conclusive, but it is pointing this way: chewing gum makes you more alert and increases reaction time, which could help you avoid a near miss or incident. One study found the following:

Chewing gum was associated with greater alertness and a more positive mood. Reaction times were quicker in the gum condition, and this effect became bigger as the task became more difficult. Chewing gum also improved selective and sustained attention. Heart rate and cortisol levels were higher when chewing which confirms the alerting effect of chewing gum.


Chewing gum moderates something called the “vigilance decrement“, which is a person’s ability to pay attention to their surroundings over time. One theory is that chewing gum increases blood flow to the brain, thereby boosting alertness.


3. Blood Glucose Management

One presentation at the Banff Petroleum Safety Conference started me down a side trail related to the role of glucose and human error.

On slide 37, the role of blood glucose and its impact on willpower. Willpower is tied to vigilance and self-regulation, or a persons ability to be mindful. When the brain is engaged in a task, it depletes glucose, and willpower is diminished. When willpower is diminished, we start to hear post-incident statements like “I forgot to tie off” or “I was in a rush” or “I wasn’t paying attention”.

So, in addition to hydration, it makes sense to look at a person’s glucose levels. This is why it’s important to get a picture of what a person ate or drank prior to an incident.

Recently, researchers carried out a study on hydration and blood glucose at several ski resorts in BC, where they implemented an awareness campaign focused on nutrition, hydration and stretching. The confidence interval is a little wide, but it does suggest the campaign had a measurable impact.

“Given that blood glucose (BG) and hydration levels have been shown to affect vigilance, this study proposed to investigate these parameters and functional movement patterns of ski-resort workers and to determine whether an educational program to stabilize BG and hydration and encourage joint stability had an effect in decreasing occupational injuries.

Medical Aid and Lost Time claims declined significantly by % (confidence interval −90.0% %) in resorts that used the educational program whereas four control resorts not using the program experienced increases of % (confidence interval −19.7% %; F[2,12] = 21.35, ) over the same season. Conclusion. Provision of snowsport resort workers with educational programs encouraging hydration, diet to stabilize BG, and functional-movement awareness was effective in reducing worksite injuries in this population.

LINK The Nutrition Program: LINK

So what does this mean for the safety professional who is trying to reduce the rate of incidents in their workplace? Some lessons include:

1. Include Nutrition in your Root Cause Analysis. I used to think safety practitioners were crazy for asking people what they ate the day before an incident, but not any more. No amount of PPE, procedures or engineering will prevent human errors if a person is not well rested, well fed and adequately hydrated.

2. Promote Hydration at Work. Quite often, companies will bring in an outside consultant to implement a Behavioral Based Observation program, and they will spend dearly to implement and sustain it. Invariably, incident rates go down for a while. Part of this could be due to the placebo effect: the fact that the company leadership is promoting a program is what gets people engaged. The fact that leadership is doing their job and employees are part of something is what causes incident rates to drop. In order to rule out the placebo effect, a company should first implement a hydration campaign. Hydration would be especially important for office workers. Going for a washroom break every hour is a good micro-break from ergonomic stressors associated with sitting at a desk all day.

3. Pass the Chewing Gum. Xylitol, the active ingredient in Trident, supposedly helps prevent tooth decay. I’ve seen my share of co-workers suffer through a 20 day shift at a remote work site with a tooth decay issue. Tooth decay could be enough of a distraction to contribute to a workplace incident, especially if individuals self-manage using pain killers. In addition to reduced human suffering, the Return On Investment into xylitol chewing gum is likely high, assuming gum does increase vigilance and alertness. I’m surprised employers don’t subsidize chewing gum or give it away as part of a person’s regular PPE.

4. Re-think Post-Incident Drug & Alcohol Testing.
In Alberta, Employers are allowed to request a worker to submit to Drug & Alcohol testing after an incident where the individual’s acts or omissions directly contributed to the incident (which covers just about 95% of incidents). If post-incident testing also included blood glucose levels and level of dehydration, the story might get more interesting.


SafeNomics: A Definition

Our company was founded on the following principle: everyone defines safety a little bit differently. People often ask us, what does “Xi” mean? Well, it’s deliberately ambiguous. But the way we like to define it is this way: X is a crossroads or intersection and the little i refers to the individual, industry, incorporated entity or injured party. Xi refers to someone who is at a crossroads, and faced with three choices: Business as usual, scrap safety altogether, or chart a new path.

Here is another way to define safety: go back to the first principles of the root words. What did this word originally mean?

Safety (noun)

The Latin word for Safety is Salus. Salus is defined as: health, safety, well-being, salvation / salutation. It comes from the early 14th century, from Old French sauvete, meaning “safety, safeguard; salvation; security, surety,”. Earlier: salvetet (11th centuryc., Modern French sauveté), from Medieval Latin salvitatem (nominative salvitas) “safety,” from Latin salvus (see safe (adj.)). See also: completeness, well-being, uninjured, whole.

Safety differs from security in that Safety refers to an inner certainty that all is well. Security refers to the absence of an external threat. Safety is internal, Security refers to the external.

Once we craft a philosophy of safety, we can begin to explore the fundamental laws that either enhance it or diminish it. The greek word for these laws is “nomos”.


The Greek term for “law”. It is the origin of the suffix -onomy, as in astronomy, economy, or taxonomy. (Greek: law, order, arrangement, systematized knowledge of [something]; usage. Nomos refers to the dispensation of justice, based on laws, whether natural, man-made or customary.



We recently trademarked the word “Safenomics” and the Canadian trademark office asked us to flesh it out a little bit more. Safenomics is the application of economic concepts to Health, Environment, Safety and Security under the banner of Loss Prevention.

Our position is that safety needs to be simplified. We don’t need all the bells and whistles, the new hot-dang silver bullet, or a bunch of paperwork to improve safety. SAFENomics can be thought along these lines:

Managing Risk to Prevent Loss to People, Planet and Progress. 

SAFENomics and  Accounting

Father Luca Pacioli is known as the “Father of Accounting”. He did not invent, but rather “codified” the system of debits, credits and ledgers used by traders in Venice to keep the economy rolling. His work formed the foundation of modern accounting and it continues to evolve from there.


Have you ever wondered what the true cost of an incident is? For example, let’s say a crew of workers rolls their crew truck. The Safety manager gets a quote from the body shop for a $10,000 repair bill. But the costs don’t stop there. Here are some other costs to consider:

Administrative – cost to investigate the incident, to gather decision makers for meetings, report to client.

Non-productive time – Cost to source a new truck and have an employee drive it out to the site, the costs of phone calls with the repair and insurance companies.

3rd Party Costs – costs of property damage because the truck wrecked a bridge,

Opportunity costs – lost productivity because people were dealing with the incident, potential lost contracts because the Total Recordable Incident Frequency went above a certain threshold. Cost of lost productivity while workers were at the hospital to get a physician’s assessment.

WCB Claims Costs – one of the injured workers came back three days later with a sore neck, and now he needs to go for surgery to correct some spinal damage. Cost to WCB to send a private investigator to follow the worker and ensure he is not scamming the system. Cost of increased WCB premium rates and WCB claim.

Lost Time Incident Costs – The worker is staying home to heal, so we need to train his replacement and have the HR department hire another person.

The average WCB claim in oil and gas clocks in at $20,000. So it would seem that the total bill for this is $10,000 in truck repairs and $20,000 in WCB claims. However, these are the Direct Costs. The Indirect costs can be 5 times the amount of Direct costs, which would be:

$30,000 + $150,000 = $180,000

These indirect costs will show up on the company’s balance sheet at year end. But not all companies track their costs and tie them to an incident. Now here is where it gets interesting. How much revenue does the company have to earn to break even on these incident costs?

If the company has a net revenue of 10%, it will have to earn:

$180,000/0.10 = $1,800,000

This is why a single incident can absolutely cripple a company. It raises the company’s costs, which are passed on to the client through higher prices, schedule delays or the cost of re-work.

I’m sure you’ve heard that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So how much money should the company invest into preventive measures, such as driver training, vetting driver’s abstracts, computerized vehicle monitoring, snow tires and such?

It depends on the frequency rate of the incident. If this is an annual incident, it is costing the company $180,000 per year to deal with vehicle accident costs. If the frequency is once every ten years, the company can amortize that out to $18,000 per year.

If you think your company can’t afford to invest in a safety program, what is the absence of a safety program costing you?

This is what we mean by Safenomics – tracking incident related costs within the organization and waking people up to the true cost of failing to invest in safety.


If you’ve got some thought on this, drop us an email at:



Xi Safety Contributes to Altalink Heartland Transmission Project

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Recently, Altalink’s Heartland Transmission Project reached a successful completion, on time, under budget and with superior safety performance.

The project involved the construction of a high voltage line connecting the Heartland Region northeast of Edmonton to existing infrastructure in South Edmonton.


But the project didn’t start out this way. Heartland kicked off with a series of incidents that led Altalink to reach out to us. We were able to send a trusted HSE Worksite Representative to diagnose the sources of Altalink’s concerns.

Over a period of three months, Xi Safety was present on the project to collect baseline observational data of the underlying issues, and we worked with Management to craft a Corrective Action Road Map to get the project back on track. Altalink management was responsive to our feedback and implemented many of our recommendations.

We want congratulate Altalink on the successful completion of this project, and thank the project management team for their proactive approach, foresight and demonstrated commitment to Safety.

If your project is kicking off on the wrong trajectory, or if you want to know how you can get safety back on track, give us a call. Let us know the answer to this one simple question:


(403) 370 6876


What does the “Carbon Bubble” Mean for Oilfield Services?


Source: Wiki

A group of climate scientists got together and decided that humanity is facing a “carbon budget”. This is not a joke. In order to keep the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 below 350 ppm, they say we will only be able to burn 20% of known hydrocarbons, leaving the remaining 80% in the ground. Anything above 350 ppm could lead to a global temperature rise of 2 degrees C, which is associated with mass flooding of coastal areas, along with some “point of no return” scenarios related to methane releases. Since oil and gas companies derive much of their value based on production, prices and remaining future production, some analysts believe the global oil and gas industry is overvalued to the tune of $28 trillion.

It doesn’t matter whether you believe this is real. What matters is if a critical mass of individuals, investors and institutions believe in the validity of this idea. It’s a daft idea, because it take former assets (hydrocarbons) and turns them into potential liabilities (carbon emissions). It’s sprouting new “carbon free” investment portfolios for investors who have ethical viewpoints regarding carbon, or for investors who believe that governments will coordinate a global effort to stamp out carbon emissions.

If we follow this idea through to its main conclusion, it has several implications:

1. We should transition to a carbon-free economy sooner than later
2. High Carbon = High Cost, meaning coal will be the first to go, followed by oil sands, leaving natural gas as the remaining survivor
3. The transition will not be immediate, but will take 30-50 years to switch over to a lower carbon or carbon free economy
4. Developing the infrastructure to transport “green” energy will run into its own set of constraints
5. Formerly abundant resources will become increasingly scarce, regardless of the type of economy we pursue

The Scenario:

In this scenario, there is a global, concerted effort to “stamp out carbon” from the energy supply chain. This could be done through various cap and trade schemes, or a global carbon tax on emissions. If tomorrow, we simply awoke to this new world, what would the transition look like for various oilfield services in Alberta, and perhaps the world over?

1. Going “Carbon-Free”.

What the market wants, the market gets, and it’s up to suppliers to meet demand. If the market is suddenly demanding a carbon-reduced supply chain, we might see some or all of the following:

– Emissions Audits – Companies will probably have to prove they are adopting some sort of emissions target. In many ways, this is already occurring, but will only become more prevalent. This creates demand for emissions measurement and estimation coming from owner operators, who would want similar data from their contractors and suppliers. You could picture something like a safety audit -an external audit every three years to examine your EMP, or Emissions Management Plan.

– New Hazards associated with Lithium – “Going green” requires a lot of lithium. This mineral needs to be mined, processed and sold like any other resource. However, its prevalence in the workplace will explode. Unfortunately, so will lithium fires and worker exposure to lithium.

– Geological and Seismic Exploration – Lithium is just like any resource in that it has recoverable and probable reserves, and to expand those reserves, you need to explore. It’s possible that the world could come knocking at Alberta’s door to recruit our expertise at locating resources. I don’t know if the techniques are the same for lithium and oil, but it’s possible.

– Abandoned Wells – It may be possible to re-enter old wells, not for their remaining residue, but to circulate glycol or water to recover subsurface heat and convert it to electricity. However, this electricity could be “stranded” with no means of connecting the supply to the grid. The only way to do it would be to exploit existing infrastructure by running cables through the abandoned pipeline.

– Geothermal Drilling – Many drilling rigs could be put to use for drilling geothermal wells in BC and Western Alberta. This would have implications for drilling rig design, favoring rigs with smaller footprints and lower noise levels for work close to dwellings.

– Drilling Fluids – A carbon tax would likely raise the price of oil based drilling fluids, aka “invert”. This would make water based mud systems more cost effective, but could also drive demand for canola-based drilling fluids.

2. Phase Out of Coal

This is already underway. As oil sands plants expand, each new natural gas steam cogeneration unit supplies excess electricity to the grid. Think about this in terms of the carbon chain: heavier crudes will cost more to exploit, while lighter crudes would be subject to less carbon tax.

Carbon Chain

As far as drilling activity is concerned, moving towards a carbon free economy would decrease demand in the oil sands, while driving demand for lighter hydrocarbons such as natural gas and condensates. As a result, the price of natural gas would climb, making new natgas and LNG projects more profitable. This is good news if you’re involved in exploiting some of Western Canada’s natural gas fields such as the Duvernay in Alberta and the Horn River in BC, or if you are servicing companies involved with the LNG game. In a way, a carbon tax on heavier hydrocarbons would launch a boom in BC and Western Alberta. The amount of investment slated for the Duvernay is already in the tens of billions of dollars, and drilling activity from Fort Liard to Rocky Mountain House would likely explode. These towns would become Little Fort McMurrays, enduring similar project related impacts associated with population growth and an influx of workers.

3. Transition Through Retrofits and Global Opportunities

The transition to a reduced carbon economy would not happen overnight, but would take a generation or so to complete. This would require service companies experienced with retrofitting diesel engines to a natgas/diesel blend. The thousands of Caterpillar diesel generators across western Canada would need to be outfitted to run on alternate fuels. We might even see more natural gas at our gas stations. The increased use of natural gas as a workplace fuel will present a new set of hazards, as it is more volatile than diesel, and we could see some massive industrial explosions.

The winding down of oilsands in a carbon constrained world is not a foregone conclusion. Depending on a producer’s cost curve, they may be able to absorb the costs of Carbon Capture and Storage. Incumbents such as Suncor and Syncrude are the most likely to be able to do this, while higher cost producers would struggle. It all depends on their supply costs relative to the price of Western Canadian Select. This would open up new opportunities in salt cavern drilling, Enhanced Oil Recover (EOR) using CO2 injection, and the conversion of existing pipeline infrastructure to CO2 pipelines to transport the product to its disposal site.

Global opportunities would also open up for suppliers for one simple reason: flaring. Nigeria and Russia are behind the technological curve when it comes to dealing with flared gas. These emissions are currently regulated in Alberta through Directive 60, and are regarded as world-class. If other jurisdictions implemented the same regulatory regime, it would raise their costs, making them less competitive.


In Russia, natural gas associated with oil production is often flared. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Russia flared an estimated 1,320 Bcf of natural gas in 2011, the most of any country. At this level, Russia alone accounted for about 27% of the total volume of gas flared globally in 2011. Although a number of Russian government initiatives and policies have set reduction targets for gas flared, thus far, decreases in gas flared have not occurred.

– Source: EIA

Currently, these high flaring nations enjoy a cost advantage that Alberta based producers do not enjoy, and implementing a regulatory regime similar to Alberta’s would drive global demand for service companies who know how to build this infrastructure.

4. Developing “Green” Infrastructure

Some days it seems that there is a certain amount of schadenfreude when it comes to “green” ideas. People envision hundrends of thousands of laid off oil sands workers heading home to work at Wal-mart. This is simply not true, because the build-out of windmills, solar farms, geothermal wells and associated infrastructure would still require skilled labour.

Trucking companies that specialize in moving drilling rigs might dwindle, whereas transport companies capable of moving large windmill blades would be in demand. Pipe trades would still be required to retrofit existing oil infrastructure to handle natural gas or CO2. Electricians could see the largest boost to wages, and hence demand, as the infrastructure mix moves towards electricity and utilities.

These projects would also face the same constraints currently imposed on oil sands producers with respect to consultation, environment and property rights. Energy transmission projects would take the form of power lines in the place of pipelines, creating a new perceived threat to protesters and land owners. The same sort of NIMBY-ism that plagues current pipeline development would turn its sights on bird-slaughtering windmills and destruction of scenic vistas by power transmission projects.

Hydroelectric and Nuclear projects would increase in number in a carbon constrained world, and they would not be without their opponents. The construction of hydroelectric projects in BC has already obliterated thousands of hectares of forest, habitat and First Nations villages and hunting grounds. Increased demand for nuclear power would be good news for Saskatchewan, but these projects would not be palatable until the public has forgotten about Fukushima. Nevertheless, a carbon constraint would boost these types of projects and the profits of construction companies specializing in this field.

And let’s not forget the Farmers and Foresters. A carbon constraint might make for more biomass electric plants and biodiesel refineries. On one hand, this could drive up the price of food as grains and seeds become part of the energy mix. On the other, it creates alternate domestic markets for farmers. In BC, Cellulosic Ethanol could emerge as a source of demand for the thousands of hectares of standing bugwood decimated by beetles.

5. New Constraints Create New Scarcities

Hopefully the discussion so far has revealed that a constraint to a system will shift the equilibrium as the factors of production adapt to the new constraint. A low-carbon world would involve trade-offs, it would create new hazards, and would shift the investment mix towards alternate resources and energy sources. From an oilfield services perspective, it is a matter of adapting to the new mix of technologies. Each new green energy project still requires a supply chain of steel, cement, skilled workers, heavy equipment, transportation and supervision. Old technologies can be re-purposed and find new life in this scenario.

However, we should not view the 350ppm carbon constrained world as a cure-all for what ails us. Developing this infrastructure is not without its own set of hazards, negative environmental impacts and property rights issues:

– Surface Area Disturbance – Solar farms will still require surface area disturbances to generate energy.
– Property Rights – local landowners or adjacent businesses can be negatively affected by wind mills.
– First Nations Rights – Green development might be more palatable for First Nations, but will still involve trade-offs.
– Linear Disturbances still exist – Instead of pipelines, we will see more power lines, which disturb more visual space.
– Lithium Mining – Countries like Bolivia and Afghanistan would also succumb to the so-called Dutch Disease as foreign direct investment pours into these countries to exploit the resource.
– Crop Mix – Fuel from crops links food prices to energy prices, adding another dimension of volatility to the food supply.


Some days it seems that we are losing our critical thinking faculties and have given our power away to technocrats. These people state something that sounds smart, and the bandwagon effect ensues. Eventually the idea reaches a critical mass, and the consequences of the idea come to fruition. Maybe we should take these claims and think them through a little more before joining into the mass psychological shift. Sometimes the cure can be worse than the poison.

Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves.
– Eric Hoffer

Further Reading:

Kepler Cheuvreux: Stranded Assets, Fossilized Revenue

Globe & Mail: Exxon Leads The Charge on The Carbon Bubble

Responsible Investor: Is the tide turning on ‘big carbon’? The surprising step change in the stranded assets debate.

Generation Foundation: Stranded Assets

Carbon Tracker: Unburnable Carbon


Implementing a Dropped Object Prevention Scheme on Land Drilling Rigs


I recently heard through the grapevine of another oil and gas fatality where something fell out of a land based drilling rig, striking the worker, who died. I can’t find anything in the news here in Alberta, so I assume it must have been in another jurisdiction.

Recently, we received a phone call from a colleague who works for another safety company here in Alberta. Our colleague stated that a contractor was looking to implement a Dropped Object Prevention Scheme (DROPs) on a few rigs in Alberta. The contractor seemed to think that it would be possible to create another form to meet their due diligence requirements. It’s not that simple, and in this post, I’ll try to show you the basics for implementing a DROPs program for your company.

In case you’re wondering, DROPs is a global initiative in the offshore oil and gas industry, where major owning companies and drilling contractors share best practices to mitigate dropped objects. In the offshore oil and gas industry, dropped objects are responsible for 25% of all injuries and fatalities, so it makes sense to attack these hazards. Each company varies in their approach to dropped object prevention, but it typically consists of the following:

1. A list of overhead hazards, their exposure to vibration and corrosion, and some means to assess risk.
2. An inspection regime to inspect items at a frequency shorter than their expected failure rate.
3. Control measures to limit worker exposure to working at heights and overhead hazards.
4. Permitting systems for non routine work at heights.
5. The use of tethered tools and training to improve their utilization.
6. Procedures and protocols to eliminate potential targets, such as workers on the rig floor while overhead work is underway.

The DROPs consciousness is ingrained in offshore drilling rigs, but it hasn’t seen wide adoption on land rigs, especially here in Alberta. It begins with the industry training available through ENFORM as Fall Protection for Rig Work. I’ve taken this course, and it’s a great course, but the focus is on preventing people from falling. There is little attention paid to the use of tools overhead.

This industry training gap manifests in the workplace whenever we send workers with tools up the derrick to do some work. We will ask if the new worker has a valid Fall Protection for Rig Work certificate, then send him up on the Manrider winch with a grease gun and 12 lb sledgehammer to tighten the hammer union on the goose neck swivel. The worker has training on how to prevent himself from falling, but nothing around how to use tools at heights to prevent dropped objects.

1. Setting Up a DROPs System

If you want to set up a DROPs regime for a land based drilling rig, everything starts with a DROPs policy. Does your company have a policy that governs the inspection of overhead hazards, worker training and job procedures? Once your policy has been vetted and approved by management, it gains some teeth and you can start implementing an inspection regime.

2. Examine the Rig Lifecycle

A drilling rig has a lifecycle for each hole that encompasses rig up, pinning the derrick to the A-Legs, raising the derrick, spudding the well, driling surface hole, drilling intermediate hole, tripping in/out, drilling the horizontal section, jarring, fishing, laying down pipe and rig out, to name a few. Each of these operations come with their own hazards. You want to look at the rig lifecycle to understand when you should be able to perform inspections of overhead hazards. For example, it might make sense to inspect your overhead self retracting life lines when the derrick is laid over, depending on your rig. Your inspection regime should mirror your operations, something like the following:

A. Pre-raise Derrick Inspection Checklist (Focus on lifting and rigging equipment)
B. Pre-spud Checklist (Fall arrest systems)
C. Post-surface hole inspection (Overhead pins)
D. Post jarring/fishing inspection (Top drive – mechanical)
E. Crown Service, Slip & Cut mega joule records (Wire line records, weekly crown service “top down” inspection)
F. Rig Move (BOP slings, bridle lines, crown sheaves)

3. Examine Worker Exposure to Overhead Hazards

Every drilling rig has hundreds of overhead items that should be identified, catalogued, photographed and assessed for their Dropped Object Consequence. The Dropped Object Consequence Calculator is based on simple physics. It takes the height of the object, plus its weight, and classifies the consequence in terms of risk, whether that’s First Aid, Medical Aid, Days away from Work or Fatality.

Drops Calc

How do you do this? First, you start with an inventory of all overhead items such as derrick pins, tong sheaves, turnbuckles, light fixtures, third party antennas, hand rails, and so on. You should come up with a list of at least 40 items on a large triple. Once you have gathered these items, you’ll need to estimate their height and weight to come up with a risk profile of each item. If you want to get really fancy with yor risk analysis, you can consider the exposure to vibration effects, and the amount of time workers spend under them. If your HSE Department really wants to drill down into the data, you can plop the info into a spreadsheet to begin assigning quantities to these risks. Here’s a screenshot from my spreadsheet:


This step might seem like overkill, but it does reveal some counter-intuitive results. Specifically, this spreadsheet exercise revealed that a 500 ml water bottle in the monkey boards was one of the most significant overhead hazards. (If you go back to the DROPs calculator, you’ll see that a 1-2 pound object 90 feet up will put you in the red).

4. Overhead Tools and Training

We are going to send the Motorman up the Manrider Winch with a 12 lb sledgehammer to tighten some hammer unions on the goose neck swivel. Some rigs will lockout the brake handle and clear the rig floor of all personnel in case the sledgehammer drops. Establishing a “Red Zone” like this is a good first step, but what are some other things to consider? How about: is the sledgehammer a tethered sledge, is the tether long enough, is it strong enough, and what is it anchored to? Second, how do we document that the Sledgehammer was signed out and returned, and not left somewhere overhead, such as on top of the top drive?

Every rig should have a DROPs toolkit of tools specifically engineered to have an anchor point for a tether. But not all rigs are equipped with such a kit. You can establish these kits by asking your rig crews which tools they use the most. Alternately, you can contact a reputable vendor to find out what other companies are using in their tethered tool kits.


5. Making the DROPs System Work

A DROPs safety management program will have several key components to make it work, and everything starts with Policy.

a. POLICY – A policy that outlines Management’s commitment to minimizing worker exposure to overhead hazards and dropped object prevention. The policy should be signed by the owner and displayed in the workplace.

b. INSPECTION – Considering the lifecycle of a rig as it drills a well, what are the most opportune times to inspect each item? A series of 3 year, 1 year, per well, monthly, weekly and daily checks, and who is responsible for them, will ensure that overhead hazards are being mitigated.

c. EQUIPMENT AND TRAINING – Preventing tools overhead from falling requires proper training. Workers should know how to use tools overhead, understand primary and secondary means of securement, and most of all, they should understand exactly what they are looking for when inspecting an item. This can be accomplished with hands on training, a visual inspection guide and ongoing mentoring by a qualified individual.

d. ACCOUNTABILITY – All workers should read, understand and commit to the organization’s DROPs policy, which subjects them to the disciplinary procedure for non-compliance. Control measures that encourage workers to hold eachother accountable can also be implemented to make the system self-monitoring.


Setting up a DROPs program can be a significant undertaking, but with the right guidance and training, your company doesn’t need to fumble through the process. As qualified DROPS Train The Trainers, we can do the following:

– Help create your DROPs policy
– Conduct an overhead hazards survey
– Quantify the risks involved
– Set up a rig-specific toolkit
– Train workers in the use of tools
– Set up Trainers within your organization to make the system self-sustaining

For more information, send us an email at with “DROPS” in the subject heading.


The Safety Iceberg

Xi Safety believes in safety at home and in the workplace. In our travels, we stumbled onto this free e-book by Fred Rine of FDR Safety called Getting to Zero. This is the Paradox of Safety: The more we push Safety, Safety, Safety at work, some people may turn the other way and rebel against the workplace mantra. As Fred states below, we may not make a difference by confining our safety efforts to the workplace domain of behaviors and habits.


“It is a fact that only 4% of fatal accidents occur on the job. 96% of accidental deaths are from vehicular accidents, or accidents at home or in the public domain. Working on 4% of a problem and expecting significant improvement might be considered a form of insanity.”

– Fred Rine, FDR Safety: Getting to Zero (pdf)

Take ladder use, for example. At home, how many of us take risks with stepladders that would not be acceptable in our workplaces? But in the workplace we will find a fall arrest harness and anchor point when working above the employer’s designated height, whether it’s 9 feet, 6 feet or even 4 feet. We do this because we “have to”. But when it comes to hanging Christmas lights at home, the percentage of people using fall arrest equipment is likely in the minority.

The “Safety Iceberg” represents the percentage of unsafe behaviors, habits and values visible in the workplace. This is because the employer typically has a lower risk preference than that of the employee. Friction arises where behaviors that were perfectly acceptable at home are suddenly forbidden in the workplace. Examples include heights for tie-off, box cutter use, cold work permits, lockouts and speed limits. Workers will generally comply with the employer’s programs for preventing accidents while the employee is in the workplace, but at home it can be another story.

Why should employers care about how their employees take risks at home? An accidental death of a worker during their off-hours creates its own iceberg of hidden costs for the employer:

1. The loss of the individual, their experience and presence.
2. The relationships they had to others and its impact on morale.
3. The cost of recruiting, retraining and mentoring another worker(s) to full competency.
4. The opportunity cost of lower production while retraining.

Employers have no control over what people do in their leisure time, but employers can have some influence by creating a safety culture that workers want to take home with them. This starts with motivating your people to work safely: most people want to return home to their loved ones in the same or better condition than when they left their front door. By tapping into worker motivations and values, your workforce can move from the “have-to” of Safety to the “want-to”.

We highly recommend this free e-book by Fred Rine, which you can download HERE.

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