ARCHIVED - Session 2 - The Role of Leadership - Russ Girling, CEO - TransCanada PipeLines

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Safety Forum - June 5-6, 2013

Russ Girling, CEO
TransCanada PipeLines

Do you measure safety culture? If you do, high level, how do you do it?

TransCanada has used surveys developed by behavioral safety specialists a number of times in the past to gauge the response of senior managers, first level supervisors and front line employees to a broad range of questions relating to key elements of corporate safety culture. The results of these surveys are shared with employees and provide the basis for identifying and implementing improvements to programs that can influence a positive safety culture within the organization. There are a number of internal metrics TransCanada has also used to gauge the degree to which employees are fully “engaged” in positive safety culture behaviors, these include near hit reporting, participation in 24/7 safety programs aimed at taking safety principles into the home place, and participation in voluntary safety related assignments such as employee based safety committees and training.

Are there any specific collaborative initiatives (knowledge sharing, R&D, etc.) across companies or across industries?

TransCanada safety culture survey results are compared to the consulting company’s database of previous surveys and can provide a means for determining areas for improvement relative to the best practice performance of the other participants. Workshops to review results and share best practices are usually facilitated depending on interest. When it comes to the broader topic of advancing operator’s knowledge of pipeline safety there are numerous collaborative efforts going on within the industry to increase the collective knowledge and state of the art within the industry. Joint research projects through organizations like NRCAN and PRCI are very common. Conference and information forums sponsored by industry organizations such as CEPA, the Canadian Gas Association, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, the Southern Gas Association, the American Gas Association and the American Petroleum Institute (to name only a few) are focused on sharing learnings from incidents and results of best practices focused on improving the quality and safety of the continent’s oil and gas pipeline infrastructure. Standards development organizations like the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), NACE International, the American Society of Safety Engineers, and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) are dedicated to the development of high quality safety standards for use across our industry as well.

Is a zero risk or zero incidents something that is communicated to the public?  It sounds like a dangerous precedent

The industry is working toward a goal of zero incidents that have an effect on personnel and public safety or the environment. This commitment has been shared extensively within a number of industry and public forums and one that we are committed to and proud to be pursuing. It is based on the knowledge that we do not have all of the tools and solutions today to prevent every pipeline incident from occurring, but that we are committed to developing and deploying the necessary technologies and methods that will lead to continuous improvements in the integrity of our pipeline infrastructure and eventually, over time, the elimination of serious incidents that can have tragic consequences. The majority of society recognizes and supports the path that we are on, and while there should be no tolerance for high consequence events that result in widespread damage or losses, the public expects that in the rare event that a pipeline incident may occur that responsible operators and emergency responders have been well prepared to respond quickly and effectively and can do so to minimize the consequences of the incident to the maximum extent possible.

To Russ: Industry working together - If a safety practice is best practice and seen as a competitive advantage, how do you share?

When it comes to safety, our objective is not only to ensure TransCanada is at the leading edge, it is also to ensure the industry is using best practice. We take a leadership role in our industry associations and we invest with vendors in the development of new technology. An incident in our industry impacts every company and we want to make sure everyone is operating with best practices. That said, in a competitive environment, customers have choice and I believe in a world of focus on safety, customers will align themselves with those companies which employ high standards, are industry leaders and have a history of strong safety performance.

The objective is to achieve 0 incidents. Is there a desired timeline on this?  If not, should there be so that this is a very tangible goal?

In addition see response to Question 3. The challenge is developing meaningful leading and lagging indicators that clearly indicate that the industry is progressing, year over year, in the direction of that goal. Industry is working closely with the NEB on the development of these performance measures, the production of which will result in a more tangible way of demonstrating our collective progress.

Re: next question, the goal is 0. The objective should be getting as close to 0 as possible so annual targets and measures are needed to be tangible.

See response to Question 3 and Question 7.

Does the goal of zero meet the requirements of goal setting science i.e. realistic and achievable?

See responses to Question 3 and Question . What will be realistic and achievable will be the interim goals and objectives we set on the leading indicators and action programs that will serve as the milestones for our journey to zero.

All of you are from finance backgrounds-that doesn't sound like a background for an operations, safety focus. How did you get to safety first?

One of the primary functions of a CEO is to develop a balanced executive management team that possesses all of the required expertise to effectively prioritize and appropriately manage ALL of the responsibilities, requirements and complexities of their respective businesses. Another important function of the CEO is to ensure that a culture exists within the organization where every employee feels comfortable and obligated to raise their hand and identify issues that require the focus and attention of senior management. As it relates to safety being first among those priorities it comes from a fundamental belief that financial losses can always be compensated for but the loss of a single life as a result of our business activities can never be recovered. Beyond that principle any other supporting rationale seems trite; however, there is a compelling correlation between a company’s safety performance and its financial performance. It does not come as an entire surprise that the same type of initiative, leadership, and sound processes and programs that are required to maintain a tight ship from an occupational and operational safety perspective might also be the same type of attributes that can contribute to responsible and repeatedly strong financial management and performance. And finally, distantly beyond the tragic consequences of an accident and the irreparable damages and loss that can occur as a result of a serious incident, is the cost of reparations and compensation which can be financially crippling to an organization, the collapse of the organizations reputation and in some cases the forfeiture of its social and literal license to operate. Based on the foregoing, no matter what one’s educational background, it is easy to get to safety first.

While zero is well intentioned is it eroding trust and belief at the worker level?  Is it driving wrong types of behaviors in the company?

It is critical that frontline workers (and their leaders) have a clear understanding of what the rationale and basis for the goal is and what programs and what commitments underpin the approach to achieving it. It is equally important to ensure that the right behaviors and the right “leading” measures are used to reinforce and recognize the contributions of frontline staff in achieving progress towards these goals. If focus is solely on a lagging indicator and it is an absolute (such as zero) that is perceived by frontline workers to be unachievable and for which they will be solely held accountable then it is unlikely to be an effective motivator and could, in fact, to the point being raised, result in the wrong behaviors.

How do you know you have a positive safety culture?

See Question 1.

Who can provide a credible scientific voice on the industry practices and help influence public perceptions?

According to communications research there is no one voice that 100 per cent of the public will trust explicitly for information on a given subject, nor should there probably be. Influencing public perceptions on industry practices is everyone’s responsibility. The regulator has an enormous responsibility to create and communicate effective regulations to govern industry practice and enforce them in a fair and credible way that is transparent to the public. Industry, in spite of the perception by some of a bias, must continue to openly share information with the public regarding their practices and be responsive to requests of them for information. They are, after all is said and done, the de facto experts in the disciplines relating to the safety of their own infrastructure. The scientific community and our educational institutions have an obligation to conduct unbiased studies and research on industry practice and communicate this to the public in a clear and effective way as well. The media also holds a responsibility for ensuring that their reporting is balanced, fact based and well researched. And finally the public themselves have an obligation to familiarize themselves with the facts and review all of the information that is available on matters that are pertinent to them and formulate their own opinions based on due diligence and science as opposed to speculation and conjecture.

How do you manage the indicators that may conflict with safety performance such as cost reduction?

TransCanada uses a balanced scorecard for assessing its overall performance. This assures that all aspects of the business are given appropriate consideration when determining the ultimate success of the organization. In the case of safety, however, decisions are based on certain thresholds that must be met or maintained and if they are not, they effectively “trump” any of the other criteria that are being used to make a certain decision. This provides an extra degree of assurance that initiatives such as cost reduction will not inadvertently compromise values such as safety.

Where does PAS-55 or ISO-55000 fit into the CEO's perspective of the future - management systems, including safety and ability to audit?

These are industry standards that can be adopted by an organization that can provide a useful framework and governance model for controlling an organization’s management system. There are a number of management system standards available that can provide equivalent benefits and many companies have developed their own proprietary management systems that share many of the same elements as these standards. The On Shore Pipeline Regulations now require pipeline operators in Canada to have a management system that meets certain minimum elements, many of them common to the PAS55 or ISO-55000 standards. What is more important than the standard that is used for the management system is the fact that organizations operating complex energy infrastructure have robust management systems that embody the concepts that are universal to all of the quality standards that are currently in place today, AND that there is a culture of safety within those organizations that ensures that the systems are properly implemented and sustainable

Do you believe the integration of corporate communications into safety practices would benefit a company (internal/external communication)?

Yes, TransCanada has often engaged its corporate communications teams in assisting with the delivery of internal and external safety related messages and information.

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