|<<< Back to Success with VPP||
Occupying close to 1,000 acres, Tesoro’s Mandan oil refinery, located in Mandan, North Dakota, began operations in 1954, three years after crude oil was discovered in the state. Today, the refinery has a daily capacity of 58,000 barrels and processes primarily sweet (low sulfur) domestic crude oil. The facility manufactures gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, heavy fuel oils, and liquefied petroleum gas of which most are shipped via pipeline to the eastern part of the state and Minnesota.
The Mandan refinery has dedicated more than half of its property to the environment by serving as a natural wildlife habitat. In 1972 the area was constructed as part of an engineered wetland for treated wastewater. Mandan refinery employees built nesting structures and planted thousands of trees (including fruit trees) to provide cover and food for the area’s wildlife, including waterfowl, wild turkeys, pheasants, and the endangered Least Tern. Deer, coyotes, foxes, and badgers also live on the property. Due to the outstanding environmental efforts of employees and management, the Mandan refinery has received national recognition from the Nature Conservancy, the Wildlife Habitat Council, and the National Wildlife Federation.
Saving the environment is not the only important initiative of the Mandan refinery. Over the past decade, the facility has focused on continuously improving its workplace safety and health. Since 2004, the refinery has experienced a 45 percent reduction in injury and illness rates. In 2006, the refinery attained its lowest injury and illness rates since the refinery opened – almost 56 years ago. Also that year, the refinery was awarded several awards by the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, including the Gold Award for reducing its injury and illness rates by 25 percent or more and experiencing no workplace fatalities; the Meritorious Safety Award and the Award for Safety Achievement: 1+ Years. In August 2007, the refinery attained Merit recognition in Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) – OSHA’s premier safety recognition program.
Success Impact: Creating a Safety and Health Culture
Management Commitment and Employee Involvement
Although the Mandan facility already had good safety processes in place, several years ago the management team committed to the principle that safety and health must be incorporated into every aspect of the business, because to put it simply, "it was the right thing to do." Promoting a safety and health culture through a systematic process protects a company’s reputation and results in benefits that extend beyond monetary profits. In order to be proactive rather than reactive, Mandan management believed that an exemplary safety and health management system needed to be developed and implemented before submitting an application to OSHA’s VPP. As Robert Vogel, Mandan’s safety representative stated, "It's important to understand that we cannot wait until after accidents to create a system. Identifying hazards and managing them needs to be an ongoing process."
Mr. Vogel, who is also a member of the United Steel Workers (USW), is responsible for tracking and developing reports on the facility’s near-misses and incident investigations. These reports are presented to the management team during bi-weekly meetings. The USW supports a worker-driven and company-supported safety and health program, known as the TOP (Triangle of Prevention) Program. This is not a stand alone program, but rather part of a larger health and safety training program within the USW’s Health and Safety Department. The TOP Program is a system-based safety program which uses a three-prong attack on hazards in the workplace by identifying failures in the system, making recommendations to correct these types of failures, and tracking the recommendations to completion. As with any program, it cannot be effectively implemented without full commitment from the workers and management. Mr. Vogel networks with other Tesoro and USW sites to share safety information, best practices, and lessons learned.
"Training on hazard awareness for all workers is the key element of the TOP Program;Joint Safety Effort between Labor and Management
How does a company establish a culture that promotes the importance of workplace safety and facilitates a joint effort between labor and management? A number of key steps must be taken to ensure a successful initiative. The first step is involving everyone. Management believed in the philosophy that good business meant making the health and welfare of the workers a #1 priority. Workers who feel safe, valued, and equipped with the right skills have the confidence and capability to be more effective, efficient, and productive at work. Increasing employee buy-in, support, and participation was critical. First, employees needed to gain an understanding about what the VPP is and how safety and health in the workplace can benefit everyone at all levels.
"Safety, defined by the dictionary, is stated as avoiding something that canA safe work environment boosts employee morale because when people feel like they have a voice and are being heard, they are making a difference. Employee involvement empowers workers. Relaying health and safety concerns and notifying management about unsafe work conditions is "true worker involvement" – not just token positions of workers sitting on committees with no input. This may be a concept that intimidates management of other organizations – but not in Tesoro’s Mandan refinery.
"I work at a place where people care for each other."Although employee participation has fluctuated during previous years, Mandan had safety committees in place prior to applying to the VPP. However, the VPP initiative, as well as union involvement, has leveled off any fluctuation and workers have realized that their participation has a positive affect on working conditions. Rather than placing blame, corrective actions on identified hazards are focused on. Examples of three of the facility’s current safety committees include:--Cal Kopp, Trainer, Mandan Tesoro Refinery
"Thinking safety is what guides me to do my everyday tasks without injury toPromoting Safety Outreach and Awareness
Over the past decade on an annual basis, the facility sends an employee to the regional and national conferences hosted by the Voluntary Protection Programs Participants’ Association (VPPPA). On most occasions, the employee returns to the facility with an increased safety awareness and new ideas for improving safety. The facility also utilizes the email system, onsite billboards, and training sessions to keep safety fresh in everyone’s minds and relay the status of the VPP application process.
"Doing the right thing" regarding safety is something that people at the Mandan refinery recognize as being important – especially when it becomes personal to them. Organizations that are diligent about making sure that their employees go home every night realize that their employees will take more pride in their work and the reputation of their company.
"From the day we are born until we die there will be hazardous conditions aroundThe Mandan refinery applied for VPP Star status and had their onsite evaluation conducted in August 2009. They are currently awaiting formal approval.
Origin: Region VIII, Mandan, North Dakota
Entered VPP: August 2007; recommended for Star status by onsite evaluation team in August 2009, currently awaiting formal approval
Industry Description (NAICS Code): Oil and Gas (324110)
Employees: 235 + approximately 40 contractors
Source (Date): Robert Vogel, Safety Representative for Tesoro Corporation, Mandan Refinery, and Danielle Gibbs, Outreach Coordinator, OSHA National Office (November 2009)