by Courtney Timm
At ConocoPhillips, work is never so urgent or important that people cannot take the time to do it safely and in an environmentally responsible manner. Working safely is about individuals doing the right thing, and the company has established a strong safety culture that is embraced by its people.
This year marks the 10-year anniversary of one grassroots safety campaign: the ConocoPhillips’ HSE Ambassador Program. Launched in 2009, the program recognizes employees and contractors who exemplify health, safety and environmental (HSE) leadership in their business, across the company or externally. The company has recognized almost 700 ambassadors since the program’s inception.
“We started the program to honor a few individuals who really stood out when it came to ensuring the health and safety of our workforce,” said China business unit President Bill Arnold, who led the HSE organization when the program was founded. “Now I’m proud to say that I work alongside hundreds of HSE ambassadors. Their actions reinforce our strong HSE culture daily, and they reinforce that anyone can step up and be an ambassador.”
The program quickly took off after its launch in 2009, when 13 individuals were honored. Just two years later, 10 times that number of employees and contractors were recognized. And while the company has changed since then, the commitment to health, safety and the environment remains steadfast.
Last year the HSE organization reached out to operations, engineering, drilling and HSE stakeholders to find out whether the ambassador program still fit the needs of our company. While almost all agreed that the program is a valuable tool for recognition, several areas for improvement were identified, including the addition of themes, more local recognition and updated collateral materials. Changes were implemented this year with a goal of elevating the prestige and effectiveness of the award.
Barry Constable and Karim Salswach were among the first recognized in 2009 and are now the longest-tenured employee recipients.
Constable, operations integrity superintendent, has since moved from Bohai Phase II in China to Bayu Undan in Australia. In his time as an ambassador, he has observed an increasing awareness of process safety bolstering an already strong focus on personal safety.
“ConocoPhillips has always had a strong safety culture, but for many that was seen as primarily focused on personal safety,” Constable said. “In the past few years, personnel have been made more aware of process safety via initiatives such as separate tracking, reporting and feedback on process safety events, targeted communications and more.”
After four years with ConocoPhillips in the Middle East, Salswach joined ConocoPhillips Canada to work in finance.
“Our HSE culture is always top of mind,” Salswach said. “What has changed in the last 10 years? It is stronger, innovative and it has incorporated new principles — high reliability, for example. It has integrated deeply with the concept of sustainable development.”
Salswach’s ambassador award, which has followed him through many office moves, is proudly displayed at his workstation. “Back in 2009, just days after I landed here in Calgary, I had the pleasure to chat with the vice president of HSE and SD and the president of ConocoPhillips Canada. They kindly wanted to say hi and congratulate me on receiving the recognition! I couldn’t believe it and felt very proud. It was a clear demonstration of how the ConocoPhillips Canada organization is committed to HSE.”
See the HSE ambassadors
Earlier this year, photos of ambassadors from around the globe were showcased in a 10-year anniversary video. Employees enjoyed the opportunity to recognize them again and thank them for their continued dedication to helping company people work safely and operate responsibly.