HSE Programs and Training

SWN employs a range of health, safety, and environmental (HSE) training and other programs to support our strong safety culture and drive HSE performance.

Behavior-Based Safety

Behavior-based safety1 underpins our efforts to continuously improve HSE performance. SWN’s STOP® program2 drives behavior by empowering every SWN employee and contractor to protect their own safety and that of their co-workers and workspaces – and then holds them accountable for doing so.

STOP® achieves safety improvements through open communication, immediate behavior correction and the integration of relevant safety-related observations and learnings into how our work is done.

STOP® works by training individuals how to be observant and identify safe and unsafe behaviors, and then gives them a mechanism – a “STOP® observation” – to engage immediately in critical conversations about the behaviors they observe. Vital to the program is that all observations are made in a spirit of mutual respect and care for one another’s safety. Through STOP®, SWN employees and contractors address and report unsafe behaviors immediately – including through a mobile STOP® application – which initiates appropriate follow-up, including the implementation of identified process improvements. SWN is using the information gained through STOP® to identify trends and behavior patterns, mitigate risks and prevent incidents before they happen.

Stop-Work Authority, JSEAs and Hazard Hunts

Every individual present at a SWN job site has full authority and discretion to immediately stop all work on the site if he or she perceives a safety or environmental risk, so that the risk may be assessed and either eliminated or mitigated. We also use Job Safety and Environmental Analyses (JSEAs) and “hazard hunts” to identify and eliminate or mitigate risks.

  • JSEAs are conducted every day and before the start of work on any new task or operation in the field. As part of this assessment, SWN employees and/or contractors collaboratively map out each step of the work they will be doing to identify any potential safety or environmental risks or hazards. These risks and/or hazards will then be eliminated or mitigated before work begins.
  • Hazard hunts are periodic stop-work exercises we use to identify, document and eliminate or mitigate potential hazards in a given work area. All levels of SWN employees and contractors participate in hazard hunts, up to and including senior and executive management.

Safety and Environmental Assurance Champions

SWN’s Safety and Environmental Assurance Champion program rotates experienced safety professionals through our operational divisions and work sites. These Champions assess applicable risks and behaviors and then report back to SWN leadership to share learnings and develop ideas for improvement (e.g., process or equipment improvements, trainings, etc.).

In 2018, we expanded the focus of the Champion program to provide more direct support in the field, including direct on-the-job coaching. We also more than tripled the number of Champions across the organization and prioritized their focus on higher-risk activities.

Assurance and Assessments

Our HSE assurance process requires regular assessments of SWN’s own and our contractors’ operations as well as all third-party waste facilities, for both compliance and HSE quality-control purposes. The assurance assessments allow us to standardize and replicate best practices, as well as identify contractors with effective HSE systems. In 2018, we implemented mitigation and improvement plans based on the HSE assurance assessments we completed of all our primary operating divisions in 2017.

Incident Management

SWN uses a comprehensive incident management system to track, analyze, report and follow up on HSE incidents. Corrective measures are identified, implemented and shared to minimize recurrence.

We track and report on near hits, as well as actual incidents, as part of our proactive approach to improving HSE performance, and we share learnings across our own and our contractors’ workforces.

Near hits are reported on a daily basis and analyzed for trends and potential corrective actions. As part of this process, certain critical or “high-potential” near hits are designated for formal investigation and analysis to formulate corrective actions and prevent recurrence.

In 2018, we implemented an improved HSE incident tracking and reporting system that significantly improves functionality and performance with respect to reporting, data analysis (including trend spotting), communication, assessing and investigating incidents and formulating corrective actions. Senior managers receive regular updates on incidents and near hits and are involved in ensuring mitigations and corrective actions are implemented.

Training

Training is integral to any successful HSE program. Some of SWN’s key HSE training programs are as follows.

Training Assurance Program (TAP)

TAP is a required HSE training program for all SWN and contractor employees present in the field. See the ONE Team section for more on how we ensure that our contractors meet and uphold SWN’s standards.

JSEA Workshops

SWN and contractor employees working in the field participate in JSEA training workshops to further improve and standardize the JSEA process and risk awareness, identification, mitigation and elimination.

Driver Safety Training

In 2018, SWN drivers logged approximately 14 million miles on company business. All employees who operate a vehicle for company business must periodically take and pass a driver training course. Also, all SWN vehicles include an in-vehicle monitoring and real-time feedback system, which allows for immediate behavior modification and notifies SWN management of recurring problems.

Driver safety is an important focus at SWN, and we have some of the safest drivers in the industry, according to the American Exploration and Production Council.3

Short Service Employee Training and Mentoring

“Short service employees,” or field employees who have had less than six months of service with the company or in their job function or role, can pose a disproportionate risk of incidents if not properly trained. Our Field Employee Competency Program provides training and mentoring for short service SWN and contractor employees to help them understand SWN’s HSE culture as well as the company’s expectations and requirements for their role. Each individual in the Competency Program is paired with a more experienced mentor trained in the same job function. At the end of the program the participant must pass a job-specific competency evaluation.

Asset Integrity

SWN has built a foundation of comprehensive engineering standards that guide our design and construction processes. Hazards are “designed out” where feasible, and robust controls are “designed in” where hazards cannot be eliminated. Our quality assurance process ensures that all new equipment meets our mechanical integrity and operational requirements and is installed correctly.

To maintain ongoing asset integrity, SWN employs a well-planned maintenance program and proactive risk-based inspections. Heightened focus is given to inspections of equipment or sites with higher risks for potential impact to human health and safety and/or the environment. We also use robust processes and administrative controls, such as Management of Change processes and well-documented Standard Operating Procedures.

Industrial Hygiene

SWN’s industrial hygiene program seeks to anticipate, recognize, evaluate and eliminate and/or mitigate workplace health risks in the following focus areas.

Preventing Exposure to Silica Dust

We take the following measures to reduce or eliminate worker exposure to crystalline silica dust on SWN operational sites:

  • Use of appropriate equipment, including respirators
  • Engineering controls and best practices, which are refined and improved through ongoing evaluation
  • New sand delivery methods using closed, mobile boxes that can be trucked directly to completion sites
  • Use of sand storage silos with built-in dust control, as well as automated sand hoppers, closed cab blenders and improved dust control on sand belts

In addition, we use a proactive medical surveillance program for employees with potential silica exposure that includes maintaining detailed work histories and performing physical examinations, chest x-rays and spirometry.

Managing Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials

Naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) can be found in our operational areas. We have proactively addressed NORM in accordance with applicable federal and state regulations. Well locations at higher risk of accumulating NORM are identified, and detailed NORM management and control plans are developed as required by applicable law. Any services we use to remove or dispose of NORM-contaminated material are conducted by contractors and/or facilities that are properly vetted and approved in accordance with applicable law and the SWN HSE assurance process. See the Environment section for more on NORM.

Protection from Excessive Noise

SWN works to mitigate excessive noise from our operations, and we have stringent requirements for limiting noise exposure. Noise surveys are conducted at least annually to identify high exposure areas and determine employee exposure, and we develop noise protection plans and take other measures to understand and mitigate impacts on local residents. See the Communities section for more on how we mitigate compressor noise.

Emergency Preparedness and Response

SWN works with local emergency responders to develop preparedness, response and business resumption plans for all SWN-operated facilities. Crisis drills are conducted in all of our operating locations, involving local emergency responders as appropriate.

In 2018, all of our operating divisions updated their emergency preparedness plans and held at least two crisis drills with local emergency responders.

SWN’s Emergency Mass Notification System gives us the ability to efficiently send and receive critical information through text messages, phone calls and emails. In the event of a potentially hazardous situation, targeted notifications are sent to personnel who could be affected. The system can also be used to assess and confirm the safety status of personnel. In 2018, all field operations employees received updated training on the notification system, and the system was used to effectively send out 68 notifications, mostly related to severe weather.

  1. "Behavior-based safety" refers to the understanding that operational safety performance is dependent on individual behavior, as the vast majority of safety incidents are caused by behavior-based human error.
  2. STOP® stands for Safety Training Observation Program. SWN’s STOP® program is based on the renowned DuPont safety program of the same name.
  3. American Exploration and Production Council, 2017 annual Safety Benchmarking Study (the most recent data available at time of publication in September 2019).