Creating A Strong Safety Culture Using “L8MM”

This past October I had the good fortune to be the conference chair and speaker at the 2nd Annual HSSE Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  It was a great opportunity to learn and to hear from many good speakers, most of whom I not only had never heard speak.  Over the coming months I will share some of the knowledge I picked up from this excellent conference.

L8MM – “Last 8 Minute Meeting”

We’ve heard it over and over again that trust and good communication are two important building blocks of a strong safety culture.  At this conference in Kuala Lumpur I learned about a great way to do both at the same time.  It’s called the “Last 8 Minute Meeting”.  Rockyonto (Rocky) Sasabone, the QSHE Manager for the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) discussed the L8MM concept and how it has had a remarkable impact on safety performance.

At CNOOC they have many tools for safety including extensive worker safety training and initiatives focused on behavior like STOP. Take Two, JSAs, Permits, and others.  However, they were having service problems on the drilling platforms related to planning, execution and completion.  Because of the overall service issues, safety wasn’t taken as seriously as it needed to be.  As they began to focus on the service and safety problems they found that there was poor communication between the supervisors and shift workers.  In particular, the safety actions and precautions that they thought were in place often lapsed and with poor communication this problem was going undetected.  Problems from day-to-day were not being reported or shared.  Obviously, this was setting up latent conditions and practices that soon could lead to a serious incident or failure.

The culture didn’t encourage workers to report problems.  Everyone was tired at the end of the shift and needed rest, and reporting was extra work.  It had become a culture that encourage s attitudes like “I’m better off being quiet” or “I’ll report it later”.  Rocky decided that CNOOC needed a way to encourage reporting, especially at the end of the shift, and a way for supervisors to take action before problems became worse.  They really needed a tool for shift to shift, day-to-day problem identification and sharing.  He decided to have each crew on each shift hold a short 8 minute meeting at the end of work where problems could be discussed, the STOP cards collected and discussed, behavioral issues reviewed and causes explored, and any unsafe conditions or equipment issues brought forward for correction on the next shift.

Having the short  L8MM every day at the end of the shift encouraged positive 2-way communication.  It demonstrated CNOOC’s safety values and the importance of teamwork, and it built a culture that encouraged safety inspections, unsafe conditions reporting, peer and supervisory observations and coaching, corrective and preventative action, and most of all positive communication.  Supervisors worked together to evaluate the STOP cards and other reported items and established priority.  Medium and high risk issues were taken to more senior management for immediate action and capital.  As the workers saw a change in communication and the CNOOC value for safety,  the tolerance for unsafe conditions and the number of incidents of behavioral related issues decreased.  Over time CNOOC had created a much improved safety culture, and a feeling and understanding of each other as part of a family.  Now safety really means something to everybody.

According to Rocky, the L8MM concept was so successful it has been expanded to all offshore oil and gas rig service teams and beyond.  It’s amazing how one good idea for improving communication can have such a broad and positive impact on safety.  What’s your idea for building a stronger safety culture?  Please comment and share.  Thanks.