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  Changing Paradigms at Weatherford International
TEEX-OSHA and Weatherford International, Inc., have teamed up to
"train the right people."

by Janet Frye
horizontal mill operator
Horizontal mill operators are among 15,000 Weatherford International employees benefiting from the company's new approach to safety training.
When it comes to workplace safety, one of the secrets to success is getting the message to the right people. Weatherford International, Inc., has discovered that secret. A leading oil field products and services company with about 15,000 employees, Weatherford International is taking a new approach to safety training.

The effort began two years ago when Ronald Cox II, safety manager for Weatherford International, attended an OSHA 501 class on OSHA standards for general industry. He returned to his home office and urged the company's safety director to send all the company's district managers and safety managers to the training. After all, he pointed out, they are the ones who have the budget to make changes and can enforce the safety regulations.

Cox called the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX)-OSHA Training Institute Southwest Education Center to schedule the first OSHA class for Weatherford International. Since then, nine
more classes have followed in four states, and about 250 district managers, supervisors, and safety officers have attended the class, according to TEEX-OSHA instructor Jerry Henderson.

Weatherford International, Inc., has seen a big improvement in the safety of its facilities now that the company sends all district managers, supervisors, and safety officers to OSHA training.
"Since we required our managers and district safety coordinators to attend the OSHA 501 training program, we have seen a marked improvement in the safety of our facilities," Cox said. "Before the training, we were asking our managers and safety coordinators to perform a job without tools. Putting them through the class gave our safety staff and managers common ground on which to improve the overall safety of our operations, in addition to giving them a basic knowledge of what was expected of them in regards to regulatory compliance."

Weatherford is on the right track, Henderson says. "They have grasped the concept that you have to train the right people. Most managers want to do what they need to do to keep employees safe."

Officials at Weatherford report that the training has created a paradigm shift in the company's safety program. "They targeted the right people," said Henderson. "If the district manager is excited about safety, then everyone who works for that manager will be excited about safety."

OSHA instructor
TEEX-OSHA Instructor Jerry Henderson, right, conducts safety training classes for Weatherford International employees.
Foy K. Beshears of Oklahoma City, quality, health, safety and environmental supervisor for the company's Central U.S. Business Unit, said the "OSHA 501 has definitely been an eye-opening experience for our managers and supervisors. It not only helped to educate us, but gave us the ability to look up most of oursafety and health-related questions.

"This course added credibility to what we as safety professionals in our company have been trying to get across to our employees," he added. "It has opened a door of communication for us because our employees see that we are in this together as a group and we as HSE [health, safety, and environmental] personnel are there to help, not to add to the burden."

The 501 instructor plays a tremendous role in this process, Beshears said. "Jerry Henderson is one of the best. That's why we keep bringing him back to talk to our employees." JSHQ

Frye is a communication specialist with TEEX, College Station, Texas. This article is reprinted with permission from the Teexan newsletter.