Mark Loquan, Plant Manager at Yara Pilbara, called for common safety standards for the Australian onshore industry at a leading national conference.
Yara runs substantial operations in Australia, namely at the Pilbara facilities on the northwest coast. Located on rugged, red-colored land – the plant produces ammonia on the Burrup peninsula. Yara Pilbara is one of the world's largest ammonia production facilities, with a production capability of 850,000 tons annually. In such an industrial environment, the commitment to Health, Environment and Safety (HES) constitutes the very license to operate. Safety is always Yara’s top priority and Mark Loquan, responsible for running vast operations handling potentially dangerous materials, was invited to share his experiences.
Presenting ‘Safe by Choice’
In Australia The annual HES conference held by the Chamber of Mines and Energy (CME) in Perth had 'Cutting Edge Safety: New Challenges, New People, New Approaches' as its theme this year. Yara has an indirect link to the mining industry, which uses Technical Ammonium Nitrate (TAN). Loquan’s presentation, made an impression and attracted feature coverage from news outlets.
After introducing Yara, Mark Loquan presented a safety culture shaped by a comprehensive set of Technical and Operational Standards (TOPS) and the ongoing global 'Safe by Choice' process. He argued that the sector needed to follow the lead of the offshore industry, which has introduced a Common Safety Training Program card, and improve contractor safety standards.
"Part of my presentation was about presenting Yara's Safe by Choice and the way Yara focuses on shared learnings within the company, as well as following the principle of continuous improvement built into our technical and operating standards," Mark says.
Running 800 days without recordable injuries
With over 800 days without recordable injuries to employees and contractors, the record of Yara Pilbara lends weight to Loquan's arguments. Mark called for the introduction of a coordinated contractor safety system modeled on Trinidad and Tobago's petrochemical industry.
There a collaborative approach with several processing companies, the country's Energy Chamber, contractors and industry bodies developed a renewable 'passport' system for those who achieved agreed safety training by an independent body.
"Yara Trinidad was one of the initiators and promoters of common minimum safety standards in national industry there, and I spoke about lessons from Trinidad," he says.
"I am in no way questioning the commitment to safety across the sector and by contractors, but I am concerned there are no agreed minimum standards across the region's onshore processing industry," he adds. "Currently it's fragmented, with individual companies having their own systems and requirements - but the industry has a highly mobile workforce. This can yield unpredictable outcomes."
"Although Yara has a permanent residential workforce, like many operators we have a strong reliance on contractors for certain tasks, and we take our duty of care very seriously," Mark says.
"Yara chooses to work 'Safe by choice' by being as proactive as possible. We can improve the standards of our own employees, but we cannot ignore risks introduced when hundreds of contractors at different safety standards are entering your site for a turnaround (scheduled later in 2014 at Yara Pilbara)," Mark says.