Safety as a Core Competency

Investing in Safety

For oil and gas companies, a commitment to safety isn’t a trite pledge buried in the annual report—it’s the foundation of business. Without it, workers get hurt, catastrophic events occur, and production stops. A successful business model is proven in extractive industries, but safety is a prerequisite for getting at it.

These companies know the numbers: that each prevented lost-time injury saves on average 37,000; that each avoided occupational fatality saves up to $1,390,000; and that OSHA-issued violations are up 15 percent over the last 5 years. They also are probably aware of recent research that shows investors are increasingly using workplace safety and health measures to screen stock purchases.

One international gas exploration executive insists that every vendor partner must have the same commitment to safety they do. Safety is a criterion at the heart of every contract it signs, including its security firm. Because even if contract companies assume some financial responsibility for negative safety outcomes, injuries still raise the company’s risk of liability in third-party lawsuits and cause vendor contract costs to rise alongside workers’ compensation premiums. More importantly, safety problems place the company’s brand equity at risk.

The “Safe” Choice

With safety as a qualifier in contractor selection, the major oil and gas corporation welcomed U.S. Security Associates’ (USA) taking over its security services in 2010, including providing foot and vehicle patrols, access control, and other security services at every one of its business offices in the United States. It has proven to be the safest choice the company could have made. For 8 years running, there have been zero recordable injuries of USA personnel at those sites.

The oil and gas giant makes safety a priority, and it has been more than pleased with the decline in injuries to Security Officers from about a dozen annually to zero—honoring U.S. Security Associates as its top service provider.

That figure of zero injuries—covering more than 8 years —is even more remarkable when considering workplace safety statistics compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Industry data show Security Officers are twice as likely to suffer fatal workplace injuries as workers in general, and that nearly 9,000 Security Officers suffer an on-the-job injury annually requiring at least one day away from work. While the risk of assault and violent acts is ever present, slips and falls are the most common cause of injuries to Security Officers, accounting for 38 percent of recordables. Transportation incidents and contact with equipment or objects also routinely injure Security Officers. On average, 2.1 of every 100 full-time Security Officers will suffer an OSHA-recordable injury annually. For cases requiring the Officer to miss days of work, the incidence rate is roughly 1.1 per 100 workers.

So how did U.S. Security Associates achieve its remarkable injury-free run?

At the foundation of its success is USA’s approach to safety as a cultural value to be lived rather than a series of program activities to perform. Mirroring the oil and gas company’s strategy, senior management at USA promotes its commitment to safety, understanding that behavioral science shows it to be a significant factor in determining how employees perceive it.

USA establishes safety expectations in new-hire training as soon as Officers come on board. Timing is critical because workplaces have expectations for behavior that run counter to a worker’s lifetime of experience. For example: a typical worker won’t don goggles, gloves, and a protective smock to put bleach in a washing machine at home, but such personal protective equipment for handling similar chemicals at work may be mandatory. USA imprints those higher safety expectations on workers as soon as new Security Officers join the company.

That high bar for safety is then continually reinforced—through targeted risk reduction strategies (such as efforts to enhance transportation safety), routine re-training, daily pre-shift safety meetings, and in job performance reviews. Security Officers also undergo short, focused training courses, such as toolbox training sessions, allowing time for workers to discuss issues and ask questions, and then backing up toolbox talks with occasional refresher training courses. Finally, because safety excellence depends on spreading responsibility for safety, line supervisors understand their role as the gatekeepers to success. “Our site supervisors and managers drive that safety mentality,” explained a senior operational executive at USA. “They recognize that it’s at the heart of us being able to achieve our goals, and so safety is a daily focus to support our client’s priorities.”

USA has also invested in the case management skills of its supervisors—so that minor first aid cases aren’t mishandled in a way that triggers OSHA reporting requirements. USA also facilitates that effort by establishing liaisons with local care clinics—ensuring that workers receive proper treatment but avoiding improper injury classification.

The oil and gas company has been thrilled to witness the decline in injuries to its protective personnel, from about a dozen every year to zero. Case in point: In recognition of USA’s safety performance, and out of all the different contractors with which the international company does business, USA was honored as its top service provider.

U.S. Security Associates (USA) is the market-leading, wholly-owned American, full-service safety and security solutions provider. With over 160 locally-responsive offices, international locations and over 50,000 dedicated professionals, they offer the most complete array of physical security, remote surveillance, and global consulting and investigations to ensure better outcomes for thousands of clients and a range of industries. Innovative applications of leading-edge, proprietary technology enable USA to rank annually among the world’s best training companies, sustain the highest standards of quality, and underscore world-class customer service with unparalleled accountability. USA’s rise as one of the largest innovative security solutions leaders is a natural byproduct of these differentiators and enables the company to provide the most Safe. Secure. Friendly.® environments for people, assets, and brands. For more information, visit


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