Achieving world class safety performance is a challenge that requires a tremendous amount of leadership and commitment. Safety competes with cost, schedule, and quality for resources, and many in the international construction industry still believe that an effective safety program has a negative return on investment. While safety in many contractor-managed construction yards and sites may be viewed as important, it is questionable as to whether it is truly a value or maybe even a priority. While safety has clearly improved in the international construction industry over the last decade, the driver for that improvement appears to be driven externally by clients such as ExxonMobil Development, Shell, and BP versus being internally driven by the contractors. International construction contractors are beginning to recognize that the safety expectations of these clients are driven by a corporate value that reflects the character and commitment of senior management that recognizes how one achieves performance is just as important as the end result. While world class safety performance in itself does not define success for a project, a project cannot be defined as successful without world class safety performance.

Can companies such as ExxonMobil Development make a difference in contractor safety performance? At ExxonMobil Development we believe that not only can we make a difference in safety performance, but the effort that we place on improving safety performance will also positively impact the other business objectives that are important to us - cost, schedule, and quality. During 2002, ExxonMobil Development utilized 58 million man-hours of contract labor with approximately 85 percent of the work taking place on ExxonMobil leases and/or right-of-ways in West Africa and the Middle East. The other 15 percent of the work took place in contractor fabrication yards in Europe and Korea. The total recordable incident rate for 2002 was 0.38 incidents per 200,000 manhours, and the lost time rate was 0.04 incidents per 200,000 man-hours. This is 16–20 times better performance than the U.S. construction industry in general. While this performance is clearly world class, there is still room for improvement since the statistics do include a single fatality that took place in West Africa.

The purpose of this technical paper is to:

  1. provide an overview of ExxonMobil Development's fundamental approach to contractor safety,

  2. introduce some safety principles that lead ExxonMobil Development teams and contractors to higher levels of performance, and

  3. demonstrate the value of several tools that effectively convert these safety principles into safe behaviors that lead to positive results.

Safety at ExxonMobil is non-proprietary. We hope that by sharing our experiences and processes others in industry will benefit, and ultimately fewer workers will be injured. While it is easy to get wrapped up in the numbers, in the end safety is all about people and enabling those workers who come to our sites each day to go home to their families each evening unencumbered by an injury.

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