TA R P O N E N E R G Y S E R V I C E S
WHEN 32-YEAR-OLD BYRON THOMAS STARTED WORKING AT TARPON ENERGY SERVICES IN CALGARY ALMOST 10 YEARS AGO, HEALTH AND SAFETY WAS BASIC—WEAR YOUR PROTECTIVE GLASSES, STEEL-TOED BOOTS AND HARD HATS ON SITE AND TRY NOT TO GET HURT.
W H AT A DIFFERENCE A DECADE MAKES
Today, Thomas is the general foreman of the company’s modular construction division and describes a very different picture. “It is about going home safely at the end of the day,” he says. “I work
side by side with the guys. I learn about their families and they become my friends. I am not going to watch them do something dangerous.” As an example, it used to be that when an employee was working from a height, the emphasis was to “jump up there and get the job done.” Today, whether it’s a one-minute or one-hour task, people understand the potential for a fall is the same. In every case, ladders are now tied off to make sure they are stable. Thomas knows the risks associated with heights first-hand. He was once up on a snowy, unsecured pipe rack and slipped. Fortunately, he grabbed an I-beam and stopped just short of falling. This perfectly illustrates another thing Tarpon employees are paying more attention to: near misses. Such incidents are now reported and reviewed so they can be prevented. At Tarpon’s worksites, the day begins with a risk assessment discussion, called a toolbox. A foreman runs through the day’s activities and reminds employees of hazards for that day—if the temperature is headed to 30 degrees C, staff are reminded to drink water. If it is windy, they’re asked to watch for items that might blow off or doors that might blow wide open. Afterwards, at individual work areas, pre-job hazard assessments (PJHAs) are done. These very specifically examine the risks of each unique job, whether it is laying cable or cutting a piece of tray. Protective measures are discussed and implemented.
The last thing anyone wants is an incident, explains Thomas. “If someone sees blood, it is instant panic.”