Materials team reaches 20-year safety milestone
The TAPS workforce had its best safety year in history in 2015 with just four recordable injuries in 5.8 million hours of work. This achievement was recognized TAPS-wide and set the bar high for 2016. For Alyeska’s Materials team, excellent safety performance is commonplace; the group recently reached 20 years without a recordable injury.
That's 20 years and millions of hours of operating forklifts and 48-ton heavy duty loaders; driving in packed warehouses and on icy roads; and using tools and equipment of all shapes and sizes, from box-cutters to ladders. In 2015, the warehouse team moved over 31,000 pieces of freight weighing nearly 20 million pounds safely along the pipeline and around Valdez and Fairbanks.
"We try to encourage safety as not only an individual effort, but as a shared responsibility of keeping each other safe," said Cheryl Graan, materials and purchasing manager based in Fairbanks.
A CULTURE OF SAFETY IN BUSY, VARIED WORKPLACES
The Materials team consists of more than 30 Alyeska and Houston Contracting Company employees based in Fairbanks, Valdez and pump stations. Staff process thousands of purchase orders, handle logistics of incoming supplies, ensure deliveries and manage over $57 million of inventory across TAPS. Attention to detail is critical for coordinators who work in confined warehouse spaces and unpredictable outdoor conditions.
"This team is a shining example not just for Alyeska but our whole industry in Alaska," explained Dan Flodin, director of the Supply Chain Management Department that oversees the Materials group. "The collaboration between Alyeska and Houston Contracting Company employees around our core value of safety is phenomenal."
At the warehouses, each day begins with a tailgate meeting discussing the day's activities, potential safety hazards and mitigation measures. Additionally, the larger team holds weekly safety meetings and encourages each employee to lead. Graan adds that the success also stems from a focus on learning, improving and innovating with safety in mind.
"Everyone at the Alyeska Central Warehouse takes pride in the final outcome of every day," said Mike Fantazzi, Fairbanks warehouse foreman. "We belong to a team of people that are spread throughout the state with one common goal."
Evan Jones, Pump Station 9 materials coordinator, added: "We have a saying that we don't leave safety at the door. That's why I am proud of not being injured at work or at home with my family during my 17 years on TAPS."
HIGH SHELVES, HIGHER SAFETY STANDARDS AND OWNERSHIP
In warehouses full of materials, there’s nowhere to go but up. Materials often get stacked on pallets and stored high on warehouse shelves. Next time you take a trip to Costco or Home Depot, look around. Imagine the kind of tight-knit operation it takes to move materials of all shapes and sizes up and down, in and out, and doing it all safely. Team members say it’s vital to establish and uphold high safety standards, especially with new staff.
"The challenge is maintaining these safe practices with fresh faces coming and going," Graan said. "It's impressive that the newer staff embraces the safety culture, not only for themselves but also to pass that on and watch out for each other."
Jim Burzinski, Valdez material coordinator and one of the team’s safety leaders, said, "I am most proud of the personnel who helped get us to this point and the personnel who continue to lead by example."
So, how does a team improve on a two-decades-long-and-running safety streak?
"This is a record that no one wants to break, believe me," Graan said. "Nobody wants to be the one to set the recordable incident sign back to zero. If we continue to follow our motto that 'No Task is Routine' we'll be able to achieve another 20 years of safe performance."
Alyeska receives Governor’s Safety Award of Excellence
Alyeska Pipeline Service Company was recognized with a Governor’s Safety Award of Excellence for the second year in a row at the recent Alaska Governor’s Safety & Health Conference in Anchorage.
"This is exciting because these awards aren't just based on successful safety programs, but also on a company's culture of safety,” said Brian Beauvais, Alyeska's Senior Health and Safety Manager, Risk and Technical. "At Alyeska and on TAPS, people are making safety a priority."
The Governor’s Safety Award of Excellence honors an organization’s safety and health systems that protect their employees in the workplace and promote corporate citizenship. Alyeska has received this award in the past, as well.
The TAPS workforce completed its best safety year ever in 2015. Alyeska staff and TAPS contractors worked a combined 5,827,988 hours and had just four recordable injuries while avoiding any days away from work cases during that time.
The state noted Alyeska's dedication to flawless operations and maintenance, as well as how Alyeska and TAPS workers embody that safety culture. Alyeska is also known for its "stop work" policy, which allows any employee or contractor to stop a task if they identify something unsafe about the activity.
Beauvais attributed two major factors to the improved safety performance: more and better data is being collected, distributed and communicated by Alyeska's Safety Department staff and TAPS supervisors and managers; and there is a better use of proactive tools like Safe Performance Self Assessments, Job Loss Analysis and Loss Prevention Observations that empower those performing the work.
Beauvais also pointed to the Safety Department's forecasting work as an example of a preventative approach to keeping employees safe. A monthly report uses risk and injury data from the past to predict the highest risks for the month ahead.
"TAPS-wide, there continues to be a significant increase in staff using these proactive tools which has led to a decrease in incidents, especially in the field," Beauvais added. "People have really upped their game of using safety data and communicating it with one another."
Valve testing project provides new information, efficiencies
Have a question about TAPS valves? Ask Alyeska valve engineer Dana DeGraffenried. He knows the minute details of all 176 valves along the 800-mile TAPS route. His valve knowledge is especially sharp right now, having concluded a four-year project of testing every valve on the pipeline last fall.
"This was a very successful project and we are thrilled to have it completed," DeGraffenried said. "One of the more amazing things to me in doing these tests is that these valves have been in service for 35-plus years and they still meet our very stringent criteria. It’s amazing to see how well they continue to perform."
In mid-1990s, questions arose about the legacy valves installed on TAPS: were they still viable and fully functional after more than 20 years of use and billions of barrels of oil passing by them? TAPS engineering teams developed ways to test the valves' leak-through rate, which is the amount of oil that passes by a valve when it is closed. Teams were tasked to test each valve that did not leak every 15 years, and any valve that did leak every seven years. Testing all of the valves requires four summers of work during planned maintenance shutdowns.
DeGraffenried said that only eight valves have ever had to be replaced on TAPS, which includes Remote Gate Valve 40's replacement this summer. Each summer since 2012, DeGraffenried and his teams charted TAPS into segments and tested valves in each of those areas during long-duration summer shutdowns.
Before the most recent four-year stretch of testing, DeGraffenried and his fellow engineers developed a new testing approach, utilizing a high-pressure pump-around skid in pipeline bypass areas. This allows oil to remain in the pipeline and teams to push and pull the oil at different pressure levels between valves for testing. As many as 20 teams were stationed at selected valves during testing. In the past, oil was drained from a large portion of the pipeline into nearby tanker trucks to lower the pressure on one side of a valve.
The new process instantly improved safety and efficiency while decreasing risk. By not draining oil out and then pumping it back into the pipeline, the new testing considerably lessened the chance of a spill or damage to the pipeline valves. By using the pump-around skid, teams were also able to test more valves during each shutdown.
"We have basically cut the testing time in half," DeGraffenried said. He estimates that the new testing process also saved Alyeska several million dollars over the previous testing approach.
DeGraffenried said that valve testing itself "is relatively simple and straight-forward work." Teams use digital testing gauges to read pressures as they open and close valves. The hardest part of the testing process, he noted, is communication between teams that are spread out over many miles in mostly remote areas. They use various devices to communicate, all with mixed results: the ARTS radio network, telephone setups at each remote gate valve, cell phones and even satellite phones. DeGraffenried said nothing works perfectly and sometimes communication connections were frustrating.
Despite occasional communication hurdles during testing, the larger message was loud and clear: the four-year valve testing, and its new approach, was a success.
"There were a lot of lessons learned since we started with the new testing in 2012 and we've improved the process significantly," DeGraffenried added. "After the first tests in 2012, we had three pages of lessons learned and important information captured. After our last tests in August, it was hard to pull anything new out of the testing group."
2015 Sustainability: A unique year in review
2015, TAPS' 38th year, was a strong performance year. Despite extreme spring floods, severe storms, summer wildfires, lower throughput, falling oil prices and aging infrastructure, Alyeska and TAPS contractor personnel sustained the high TAPS reliability and efficiency that owner companies, producers, shippers, refiners and Alaskans depend on. TAPS personnel compiled an outstanding record for safety and environmental protection. They completed a large project portfolio to support current and future system operating integrity. They personally supported many community needs across the state.
The new publication, 2015 Sustainability, illustrates some of the challenges and performances that made 2015 so unique for TAPS. Highlights of the publication include a letter from Alyeska President Tom Barrett and 2015 recaps covering Safety; Reliability and Renewal; Environment; Business Performance; Community; and TAPS People.
Barrett notes in his introduction, "Alyeska's focus on safe operation, effective maintenance, and emergency preparedness requires an all day, every day, round-the-clock commitment to excellence. Managers, supervisors, and employees along the line, in Valdez, Fairbanks and Anchorage all understand that not just what they do, but how well they do it, matters enormously. Their unrelenting focus on operational excellence, strong financial stewardship, teamwork and innovation, their operational and professional skill and discipline, and their willingness to personally take on the multiple challenges we faced in 2015 gave TAPS a good year. TAPS pride is not a slogan, it is how people who operate and manage TAPS define themselves."
Alyeska earns fifth World's Most Ethical Companies honor
Alyeska Pipeline Service Company is one of the World's Most Ethical (WME) Companies® for the fifth year in a row. The Ethisphere® Institute announced its selection on March 7 and will honor recipients at the 2016 WME Honoree dinner in New York.
"Our personnel continue to demonstrate rock solid integrity and ethics, despite challenging economic conditions and significant operational challenges," said Tom Barrett, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company President. "Earning this recognition for the fifth consecutive year is a source of pride that highlights to the world the professional character of the people across Alaska who operate TAPS."
Companies are evaluated in five key categories: ethics and compliance program, corporate citizenship and responsibility, culture of ethics, governance, and leadership, innovation and reputation. Alyeska demonstrated:
• Strong and consistent safety and environmental performance.
• Sustainability initiatives designed to extend the life of the pipeline and protect the environment.
• Established policies and procedures that foster ethical behavior.
• Corporate citizenship programs, including the annual United Way campaign, school partnerships and matching employee philanthropy contributions.
• Strong code of conduct and an excellent open work environment that encourages employees to raise concerns and identify company improvements.
• Direct lines of communication between the workforce and leadership.
"Congratulations to everyone at Alyeska Pipeline Service Company for being recognized as a World's Most Ethical Company," said Timothy Erblich, Ethisphere’s Chief Executive Officer. "Companies rely on Ethisphere to continually raise and measure the standards of corporate behavior. Those that demonstrate leadership in areas like citizenship, integrity and transparency create more value for their investors, communities, customers and employees, thus solidifying a sustainable business advantage."
The Ethisphere® Institute is a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices that fuel corporate character, marketplace trust and business success. Ethisphere honors superior achievement through its World’s Most Ethical Companies® recognition program. Ethisphere’s selection criteria and the complete list of 2016 World’s Most Ethical Companies can be found at http://worldsmostethicalcompanies.ethisphere.com/honorees.
TAPS Philanthropy 2015: Generosity in many forms
Across Alaska, Alyeska and its employees actively support the communities where they live and work through a robust philanthropy program, personal generosity and volunteerism, leadership with nonprofit organizations and enthusiastic workplace giving campaigns.
Here are some 2015 philanthropy highlights from Alyeska, TAPS organizations and their respective workforces:
Alyeska: A contributing community member
"I continue to be impressed by Alyeska’s commitment to giving back to the communities they work in, and WISE is proud to partner with such a conscientious company."
– Robin Mayo, Executive Director, Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment
Alyeska's philanthropy program supports non-profit organizations around Alaska that share our company's core values.
In 2015, Alyeska gave over $400,000 in grants to more than 150 organizations that vary in size and focus on areas such as safety, workplace development and education, environmental stewardship, healthy communities, and arts and culture.
Safety: On the side of every Alyeska vehicle reads the motto "Nobody gets hurt." Last year, Alyeska proudly supported organizations like the Alaska Avalanche Information Center, as well as events like the Occupational Health Summit, whose programs keep Alaskans safe at work and at play.
Workforce Development and Education: Growing an educated and well-trained workforce is critical to TAPS sustainability. In 2015, Alyeska supported groups that develop the next generation of Alaskans from birth onwards. This included early childhood education like programs like Best Beginnings, school-age programs like Junior Achievement and robotics teams in Valdez and Fairbanks. We also donated to continuing education and training courses, like the entrepreneurship program at the King Career Center in Anchorage and scholarships with organizations like the UAF Society of Women Engineers and the Society of Petroleum Engineers.
Environmental Stewardship: Protecting Alaska's unique and pristine environment is at the heart of all we do to "keep the oil in the pipe." Whether providing grants to the Prince William Sound Science Center and the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center or sponsoring the Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment's science lecture series, Alyeska-funded organizations around Alaska share our goal of preserving the land for future generations.
Healthy Communities: In 2015, Alyeska contributed to groups building safe and healthy communities for its employees and all Alaskans. It partnered with Covenant House, serving at-risk youth. Several public health entities like the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and the Hospice of Anchorage benefited too. Alyeska is also a key sponsor of the Food Bank of Alaska, which helps hungry families around the state.
"Alyeska is such a great friend and supporter of Bean's Cafe. Their compassion and willingness to help those most in need is truly inspiring. They regularly serve meals, donate much-needed items like aprons, and contribute financially. We are truly grateful for the engagement in the mission and their support."
– Lisa Sauder, Executive Director, Bean's Cafe
Arts, Culture and Diversity: By sponsoring non-profits like the NAACP, Alaska Public Media, the Valdez Museum and Historical Association and others, Alyeska helps foster communities rich with a spectrum of experiences.
Successful workplace giving
In addition to sponsoring non-profits whose missions align with Alyeska’s core values, Alyeska also matches contributions made by our employees. In 2015, the company donated around $100,000 to more than 70 organizations around the state through the employee-match program.
"It's really special to live in a community and see firsthand how your company makes a difference. Our coworkers are so generous and creative. It's a real joy to participate in the United Way campaign."
– Sandy Johns, Alyeska’s Valdez United Way Campaign Co-Chair
Alyeska's proud legacy of strong United Way campaigns continued in 2015. Over a six-week campaign, the company and its contractor partners raised over $565,000 for United Way affiliates all over the Alaska. Many employees signed up to donate directly each month, and enthusiastic volunteers in each area organized fundraisers like dessert auctions, a quilt raffle and other events to further grow the donations.
Workplace giving extended beyond the United Way campaign. The annual Prince William Sound Traveling Health Fair brought employees and health care providers to the region's remote communities for healthy lifestyles education. In Fairbanks, Alyeska helped stage the Track and Field Day, encouraging physical activity for 400 school-age kids. More than 130 employees participated in the Anchorage Heart Walk and raised more than $29,000. Alyeska also supported the Interior’s largest canned food drive and similar drives in Valdez and Anchorage.
"Canned Food Day is the largest food drive we have each year. Alyeska's support of this day allows thousands of Tanana Valley residents to eat each year. Thank you Alyeska for being such a valuable member of this community and for having such a heart for the people we serve!"
– Anne Weaver, CEO, Fairbanks Community Food Bank
Celebrating #tapspride in 2015
2015 marked Alyeska's 38th anniversary, a year full of exceptional efforts and outcomes, hallmark teamwork and collaboration, and an incredible safety performance on TAPS. That's a lot to be proud of! The 2015 #tapspride campaign gave Alyeska and TAPS workers the chance to express their pride and celebrate those achievements and the people who made them happen. Alyeska wrapped up the 2015 campaign with the release of this video compilation, which was made possible by all who shared their #tapspride from Pump Station 1 to Valdez, Fairbanks to Anchorage! Click here to watch the video.
TAPS lab upgrades make work more efficient, innovative
Along TAPS, three laboratories are set in three radically different locations: Pump Station 1, the North Pole Metering station and the Valdez Marine Terminal. Meanwhile, the Laboratories Management group is based in Anchorage. While the workplaces vary, technicians and staff at all locations share the same ultimate responsibility – partnering with Oil Movements to ensure oil from TAPS is measured accurately. The Valdez Lab has additional accountabilities for regulatory testing, including the ballast water treatment effluent discharge permit.
All of the labs utilize the same system to capture and share critical data. Until recently, that system was outdated and not compatible with Windows 7. When the Enterprise Network was recently upgraded to Windows 7, a lab software upgrade was critical.
The Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) that connects all of the labs was upgraded as part of a large collaborative project, but this was not an overnight software update that many computer users experience. This was an Authorized For Expenditure-funded project that took more than three years to complete. The result was thoroughly improved software, firmware and instrument interfaces at all three labs.
Success for a project of this size required a well-coordinated, multi-team effort, including direct participation from lab technicians. Key players were Alyeska's Analytical Lab Services team, WiPro staff, the Alyeska IT group and software vendors. In order to prevent downtime or data loss, users and vendors were involved in the final planning stages. The project wrapped up in a few phases – the cutover on October 27 and the final declaration of success on December 11. The project team proudly noted that the upgrade was completed on time and under budget.
"This was one of the more complex projects from an IT standpoint – three unique locations, different kinds of software and an upset to a 24-hour service," explained Loretta Ruppert, Alyeska IT Analyst. "This was a great example of taking a system view. We had all of these teams and components, but we followed a plan and communicated constantly. And since the cutover, everyone is ecstatic with the upgrade."
NEW TECHNOLOGY, TRAINING LEAD TO SUCCESS
TAPS laboratory work, and the software used in that work, is complex. Technicians use the LIMS to store and report all lab data for crude oil custody transfer, meter verifications, drinking water, wastewater and fuel for air quality permits. Today, all LIMS components are networked and deployed into production as a single integrated solution. Project leads say that the upgrades will improve workflow by taking advantage of features that weren't previously available and will provide even further opportunities to innovate moving forward.
"Analytical Lab Services is doing more work than ever and there is constant change in that work," explained Kevin Dillard, Analytical Services Project Lead. "This upgrade gives our lab techs advanced software and tools that allows them to work better and more efficiently."
Instructor-led, hands-on training of the new software was another major outcome from this project. Many times software is changed and user training is self-study or on-the-job training. User training was recognized as a critical component by the project team. Another benefit of the training was that lab technicians could brainstorm about innovation and improvement ideas that can be implemented in the future.
"It is very gratifying to have the software upgrades installed and operating well," explained Bob Carson, Alyeska Lab Manager. "It was one of the smoothest upgrades we have completed. As with every project, the people who completed the work and the lab techs who tested the system deserve the credit for our success."
The project team included: Kevin Dillard, Business Representative, APSC; Loretta Ruppert, IT Technical Lead, APSC; Jen Strickland, Project Manager, CTG; Bhim Gornale, Dane Renken, Shane Meacham and Pam Grossnickle, Client Technical Support, WiPro; APSC Lab Group Software subject matter experts Billie Austin, Bryan Ekholm, Scott Henderson, Bob Koziczkowski, Steve Leider, Dan Parrish, Angela Reese, Marian Ruth; and Mike Lehtola and David Enns, Technical Leads, Perkin Elmer.
TAPS workforce notches best ever safety performance in 2015
Despite the challenges and hazards of working in Alaska and the unique aspects of working on TAPS, the pipeline workforce scored its best safety record ever in 2015.
Yes: the best performance since TAPS construction. And this milestone includes all Alyeska and TAPS contractor staff, whether they work at a remote pump station or an urban office.
In 2015, Alyeska staff and TAPS contractors worked a combined 5,827,988 hours (Alyeska staff logged 1,624,115 hours, TAPS contractors put in 4,203,873 hours) and had just four recordable injuries during that time. Recordable injuries are those that require care beyond first aid and must be reported to OSHA. The workforce sustained 135 additional injuries that required first aid in 2015, ranging from cuts and bruises to sprains and strains. 2015 first aid injuries were below the three-year average.
"The best safety year ever – this is a significant achievement to be proud of," said Rod Hanson, Alyeska’s Senior Vice President of Operations and Maintenance. "I want to thank everyone across the entire organization for their professionalism and attention to detail. The way we consider risks and approach personal safety also has a positive impact on process safety and integrity."
The 2015 performance continues a trend of improved safety and is especially notable when compared to the recent past. In 2014, there were five recordables and 1 days away from work case (DAFWC). Not long ago, over the period of 1997-1999, there were an average of 71 recordables and 15 DAFWCs annually. From 2000-2002, there were an average of 64 recordables and 20 DAFWCs per year.
SAFETY ON TAPS
These safety milestones are especially noteworthy considering that pipeline work by nature is high-risk work. Along TAPS, that work rises into the extremely high-risk category.
Every day, hundreds of Alyeska staff and TAPS contractors use tools and equipment of all sizes and shapes to work on enormous, incredibly heavy and sometimes awkwardly shaped materials.
They work in busy environments with lots of movement and potential hazards from fellow workers, vehicles, heavy machinery and infrastructure.
They work surrounded by items that are sharp, flammable, explosive and electrical.
And they work and travel in diverse climates – Alaska's always changing and often challenging weather, the state's rugged and varied landscapes, and a never-certain business atmosphere.
Of the four recordable injuries in 2015, two were minor (a bee sting and a metal particulate caught in an eye by someone who was wearing the proper PPE for the job) and two were serious (broken bones). However, none of the injuries were recorded as DAFWCs. All four of the injured people returned to work in some capacity after their injuries.
INFORMATION, COMMUNICATION, ACTION: THE KEYS TO SAFETY SUCCESS
Brian Beauvais, Alyeska Senior Health and Safety Manager, attributes two major factors to the improved safety performance: more and better data is being collected, distributed and communicated by TAPS Risk and Safety staff and TAPS leaders; and there is a better use of proactive tools like Safe Performance Self Assessments (SPSA), Job Loss Analysis (JLA) and Loss Prevention Observations (LPO) that empower those performing the work.
Beauvais pointed to the Safety team's Injury Risk Forecast as an example of data leading to safer work. The monthly report uses risk and injury data from the past to predict the highest risks for the month ahead.
With that data in mind, workers are more likely to recognize and avoid those hazards. Beauvais said that the array of tools and their increased use also led to a 3 percent drop in loss incidents and a 16 percent drop in near loss incidents in 2015.
"We have gotten much better at learning from our past and sharing those lessons moving forward," Beauvais said. "The Injury Risk Forecast reports and other tools are being shared across TAPS and supervisors are discussing them with their teams."
In addition, Alyeska develops other tools and processes that help staff think about their work and safety, which leads to safer performance. SPSAs are now part of everyday TAPS culture while JLAs are used to document the steps, hazards and mitigations of hazards involved with completing a job. These help staff visualize the work and dangers ahead before beginning a task. LPOs take place when someone observes and records the work of another person performing a task. Afterwards, the two discuss what went right and if any steps of the work plan were deviated from or skipped. This adds a layer of assurance and enhances procedures and safety.
"The sharing of information is so valuable and our teams have a great willingness to share lessons learned," Hanson said. "It also goes beyond data analysis. Workers are talking about safety and hazards every day."
Beauvais added, "TAPS-wide, there was a significant increase in staff using these proactive tools that has led to a decrease in incidents, especially in the field. People have really upped their game of using safety data and communicating it with one another."
PROGRESS, PRIDE CARRIES WORKFORCE INTO 2016
Alyeska and TAPS are within reach of another significant safety milestone. Both of 2015's serious injuries occurred in February, which means that Alyeska and TAPS workers are less than six weeks away from a full year without a serious injury.
"With this kind of safety performance comes some real positive momentum," Beauvais said. "Everyone pays attention to every step and there's a keen focus on every task. And we all continue to ask, 'How do we get better?' There's always more to learn and more to share. That's where we are headed in 2016."
Hanson added, "Success breeds more success. We've proven that we can achieve zero recordables, we just haven't pulled it off for an entire year yet. We need to continue along the path we're on, stay focused and keep looking out for each other."
2015: A year in review
2015 was an incredibly successful year in many ways for Alyeska Pipeline Service Company and TAPS.
In 2015, TAPS total throughput was 185,582,715 barrels, down just one percent from 187,406,088 in 2014. North Slope production averaged 508,446 barrels per day, which was also down around 1 percent from 2014 (513,441). In five of the last six months of 2015, production was higher than the same months in 2014. In fact, the two highest production months in 2015 were November and December.
TAPS staff worked 5.9 million hours in many capacities and scored its best safety performance on record. Alyeska was also honored by being named one of the world's most ethical companies for the fourth consecutive year. TAPS staff worked equally hard in our communities, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars and volunteering hundreds of hours to Alaska nonprofits.