Containing the hazards for Shell SA

20 September 2013

Due to the high number of spillages, contaminations and accidents on contracts at various operations, Shell SA had to examine and mitigate the risk to its business.

These incidents were among several problems that were arising as a result of drivers’ inexperience, reveals Lucky Maluleke, CEO of Imperial Logistics’ Tanker Services division, which developed a solution for Shell that included driver training and an innovative health and safety initiative.

Shell’s main business activities in South Africa include retail and commercial fuels, lubricants and oils, chemicals, manufacturing and upstream exploration. The organisation has a nationwide retail network of strategically located service stations, offering customers a variety of fuels products, as well as friendly service and convenience shopping.

The Problem

Shell SA was experiencing an escalating number of spillages and contaminations, which occurred at load points and also at the customer off-load points. These were the result of several issues – including drivers selecting the wrong delivery line; customers not issuing product delivery instructions; product left on board and not reported by drivers; and drivers loading into the wrong compartment.

“Contamination refers to the mixing of different products, such as petrol and diesel,” Maluleke explains. “This happens when a driver delivers different grades of fuel into the incorrect tanks at the delivery site, or when one grade of fuel is loaded into the wrong trailer compartment.

“It was clear that there was a lack of knowledge of products and equipment. A further problem was that 80% of drivers were new recruits,” he adds.

The Solution

Several interventions were undertaken to reduce the number of spillages, contaminations and accidents, including root cause analysis. A comprehensive programme was then launched to identify, correct and monitor future problems.

To address driver errors resulting in spillages and contaminations, Tanker Services implemented refresher driver training for Shell SA. Delivery lines and hoses were also colour coded to assist drivers in selecting the right delivery line. Job observation was increased and consequence management enforced.

“Training was given top priority,”Maluleke stresses. “The driver-to-trainer ratio was increased to 25:1, with a focus on remedial training and in-cab evaluations every three months for new drivers and every six months for those with more experience. Dangerous goods, product handling and defensive driving training courses were implemented, and underscoring drivers were required to attend remedial training.”

Further interventions included the introduction of a health and safety initiative whereby drivers would be compensated for delivering a load safely. In addition, the entire depot team could receive additional compensation when the depot achieved an incident-free month.

A dedicated HSE (Health, Safety and Environment) Officer was appointed at every operation, to ensure a focus on these initiatives. Journey plans for all trips within a 12-hour shift were drawn up, as well as Route Risk Assessments for trips requiring a sleep over. “These identified authorised stops for vehicle checks every two hours of driving, and authorised sleepover points, where necessary,” explains Maluleke.

So called “black spots”, which denote permanent hazards such as hijacking spots and high accident zones, and “red spots”, which denote temporary hazards such as roadworks and deviations, were identified and highlighted during briefing and de-briefing sessions with drivers.

The Results

By identifying HSE problem areas and applying innovative corrective measures, Shell SA, in partnership with Imperial Logistics’ Tanker Services division, has successfully produced an example of world class HSE in practice. Processes and attitudes have been successfully changed to create a committed team that understands the value of HSE and applies this knowledge to every aspect of its business.

Five year comparative incidents records reflect a clear improvement on all types of incidents that occurred as a result of non-conformance. The most notable outcomes include a significant reduction in spillages and contaminations. Outlining these results, Maluleke notes that in 2008, Shell SA’s spillage ratio per thousand drops was 1.76 spillage per thousand drops delivered. “In 2012, this was reduced to 0.20 spillages per thousand drops,” he states. “Shell SA’s contamination ratio has been reduced from 1.15 contaminations per thousand drops in 2008 to 0.59 contaminations per thousand drops in 2012.”

The success of this undertaking is also reflected in several awards in the field of HSE, including Shell SA Driver of the Year Awards, Shell SA HSSE Improved Depot and Total SA Top Contractor.

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