Total reevaluates safety procedures

Total SA formed a team to implement 58 general safety recommendations and more than 380 specific recommendations after reviewing the 2009 deaths of 5 workers on 4 different sites within Total's 13 industrial sites in France.

Doris Leblond
OGJ Correspondent

PARIS, Mar. 30 -- Total SA formed a team to implement 58 general safety recommendations and more than 380 specific recommendations after reviewing the 2009 deaths of 5 workers on 4 different sites within Total's 13 industrial sites in France.

Jean-Marc Jaubert, Total industrial security manager, summarized the findings of 13 reports in an earlier news conference. The reports stemmed from widespread group inspections by Total experts working with contractors, trade unions, and others.

Jaubert said Total wanted to “understand why there should be a significant gap between what is prescribed and must be accomplished and what actually happens.”

Inspections, done during September 2009 through January of this year, looked into potential causes of accidents for Total employees and contractor employees. Inspectors concluded organizational issues accounted for 45%, the human factor accounted for 40%, and technical issues accounted for 15%.

“Our capacity to identify the potentially serious events and draw lessons from them is the most powerful way of progressing,” Jaubert said. He said sharing information is the best way to manage risks.

The expertise of contractors is vital for Total’s activities, but these partners do not always receive the attention they deserve, he said.

Specifically, inspectors found that wearing individual protective equipment is a well-known basic requirement, but discipline often is lacking. Work-authorization forms were not always sufficiently legible, inspectors said. They cited excessive turnover rates for certain posts as another concern.

The reports noted that the routine nature of some jobs and a tendency to get used to taking risks can jeopardize the amount of attention that people give to technical work.

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