HSE Programs and Training

SWN has a range of health, safety and environment (HSE) programs and training to support our ONE Team goal of zero incidents.

Behavior-Based Safety

The concept of behavior-based safety is grounded in evidence that the vast majority of incidents are caused by human behavior. SWN’s behavior-based STOP® observation program1   is based on the principle that all workers are responsible for safety and empowered to keep themselves and others safe. This program is playing a critical role at SWN in building a culture of awareness, communication, accountability and empowerment to drive behavior change.

All SWN employees have been trained to identify safe and unsafe behaviors among their coworkers and to engage in critical conversations about the behaviors they observe, based on mutual respect and care for one another’s safety.

We are also engaging our contractors in the STOP® process. Through STOP®, employees and contractors address unsafe behaviors on the job immediately when they see them, to facilitate changes in real time. And they report their observations – including through a mobile STOP® application – which initiates a follow-up process that includes discussions with those involved and an analysis of ways to better identify and mitigate risky behaviors.

23,000

observations were recorded by SWN employees and contractors in 2017, up from approximately 16,000 in 2016. Safety observations are an important leading indicator of workforce engagement and future safety performance.

SWN is using the information gained through these observations to identify and mitigate risks and prevent safety incidents before they happen. Our STOP® analysis and reporting tool provides timely, user-friendly and interactive information on STOP® observations, making the data useful for identifying risks and behavior patterns.

Job Safety and Environmental Analyses and Hazard Hunts

All SWN employees and contractors working on our sites perform daily Job Safety and Environmental Analyses (JSEAs). Through JSEAs, team members walk through each step of the job together, identify any potential safety or environmental risks and develop measures to eliminate the hazards.

In addition, SWN employees and contractors, including senior managers and executive leadership, hold periodic “stop work” hazard hunts, during which they temporarily set aside their normal work to focus on identifying potential hazards in their work area. SWN safety and operational leaders document and mitigate any hazards identified, to help prevent incidents. Including senior leaders and managers in field-based hazard hunts emphasizes one of SWN’s core values – that everyone, from the CEO to the rig employees, is responsible for protecting the safety of our people.

Safety and Environmental Assurance Champions

In 2017, we implemented a Safety and Environmental Assurance Champion program through which specially trained operational safety leaders rotate through divisions looking for hazards, risks and unsafe behaviors. The Champions report back to safety and operational leadership teams to share common themes regarding hazards and develop ideas for improvement. They also work together to identify hazards that can be best addressed at the corporate level and help develop relevant safety trainings.

Assurance and Assessments

Our HSE assurance process requires regular assessments of SWN and contractor operations and third-party waste facilities. Through these assessments, we review compliance with federal, state and local regulations and company programs and policies associated with HSE, to ensure that in-the-field performance meets SWN’s requirements and expectations. The assurance assessments bring to our attention best practices we could reproduce in other areas of our operations and help us identify contractors with effective HSE systems so we can work with them more frequently.

In 2017, we completed in-depth HSE assurance assessments of our Fayetteville, Southwest Appalachia and Northeast Appalachia operating divisions; our drilling and completions division; and our midstream operations.

The assessments began with a self-assessment in which division staff measured their own performance against key programs, policies and metrics. Then the HSE assessment team completed document-based reviews of division performance and compliance, followed by week-long field assessments of on-the-ground performance against HSE standards and best practices. After the assessment, each division developed goals and plans to support continuous improvement.

Training

Through HSE trainings, SWN aims to build a culture in which health and safety, safe work habits and conditions, environmental stewardship, and compliance with all applicable laws are core values of each employee and contractor. Some of our key safety training programs are as follows.

Training Assurance Program (TAP)

TAP is a required training program for all SWN employees and contractors that communicates SWN’s HSE expectations and requirements. See the Contractors section for more on how we ensure that our contractors meet and uphold our high HSE standards.

Job Safety and Environmental Analysis Workshops

In 2017, we implemented JSEA training workshops in conjunction with our contractors to further improve and standardize team members’ approach to identifying and mitigating safety and environmental risks in every step of their daily tasks. In these workshops, SWN leaders, contractor leaders and field employees collaboratively develop hazard identification skills and processes.

Driver Safety Training

Every year, SWN drivers log approximately 14 million miles on company business. SWN vehicles on the road are the public face of our company in the communities in which we operate. In addition, industry studies have found that driving is one of the highest-risk activities in the oil and gas industry.2   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

All employees who operate a vehicle for company business must take an initial driver training course and pass a test on what they learned. An annual refresher course is also required. Additional training programs were developed to address locally specific driving safety issues in our divisions. Also, all SWN vehicles include an in-vehicle monitoring and feedback system that provides in-cab, real-time coaching, which allows employees to immediately modify behaviors.

We have significantly reduced high-severity driving incidents in the past few years.

In 2017, for example, we had no Tier 1 severity incidents (those with $5,000 damage or more), down from one Tier 1 incident in 2016. In addition, in 2017 we had only one incident involving two moving vehicles, down from three such incidents in 2016.

Asset Integrity

We use a system of engineering standards and asset integrity assessments to help ensure that all of our equipment operates safely and effectively, from its first day in service and throughout its lifecycle.

Our engineering standards help make certain all new equipment meets our mechanical integrity and operational requirements and is installed correctly. We use risk-based inspections and have a well-planned maintenance program to monitor equipment and address potential issues before integrity concerns occur. We give heightened focus to inspections of those pieces of equipment or sites we have assessed to have the highest risks in terms of potential impact to environment or people if failure were to occur.

We have also developed a formal management of change process, pipeline testing standards and welding standards for SWN employees and contractors. All of these standards require tracking and reporting on compliance as well as management review and approval, which drives enforcement and accountability to senior leadership in each operating unit.

Industrial Hygiene

SWN has a centralized industrial hygiene team that works to anticipate, recognize, evaluate and control workplace risks. The team is currently working in the following three focus areas, identified through a careful assessment of risks that may impact the safety and health of workers and community members.

Preventing Exposure to Silica Dust

SWN has been continuously reducing worker exposure to crystalline silica dust through engineering controls and best practices. We have also implemented sampling procedures and are evaluating engineering approaches to more effectively manage this dust in the work environment without relying solely on personal respiratory devices. We are implementing new sand delivery methods using closed, mobile boxes that can be trucked directly to completion sites, eliminating the need to unload, store and move sand. This significantly reduces silica dust on site, as well as eliminating emissions associated with diesel-powered equipment formerly used to unload and move sand.

Managing Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials

Naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) can be found in our operational areas. SWN has proactively addressed NORM in each of these areas to meet state regulations. We have developed a testing and sampling protocol to identify well locations at higher risk of accumulating NORM. For these facilities, we have developed written control plans and testing protocols to ensure appropriate controls are implemented. If the removal of NORM is necessary, we work closely with a knowledgeable, approved contractor to remove and properly dispose of the material.

Protection from Excessive Noise

SWN works to mitigate noise from our operations that may impact local residents. We also have stringent requirements for limiting exposure to noise. We undertake noise surveys to develop noise protection plans and monitor noise outside our work sites to understand and mitigate impacts on local residents.

Emergency Preparedness and Response

SWN works with local emergency responders to develop preparedness, response and business resumption plans for all SWN-operated facilities. In all of our operating locations, key personnel conduct crisis drills. Local emergency responders also take part in these drills, which help responders better understand our operations and what they need from SWN during an emergency so they can respond appropriately.

In 2017 we held crisis drills with local emergency responders in all of our operating regions.

During an emergency, quick, clear and concise communication is essential to ensure the safety of our employees and those who work on our behalf. SWN’s Emergency Mass Notification System gives us the ability to send and receive critical information through text messages, phone calls and emails. Targeted notifications are sent to personnel who could be affected by hazardous situations, such as urgent security, health hazard or weather-related situations. The system can also be used to assess the status of personnel to confirm their safety.

  1. STOP® stands for Safety Training Observation Program.
  2. Office of Administrative and Management Services, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, CDC, Retzer et al., 2015.
  3. American Exploration and Production Council, 2017 annual Safety Benchmarking Study.