On Brexit & the True Cost of Safety Advancements in the Oil & Gas Industry

A lot of drilling, forestry, and construction companies all over the world are wondering how Britain’s Brexit vote will affect the way business unfolds in the oil and gas industry. While it’s true Brexit represents significant threats to the energy sector and financial markets all over the world, the true measure of the damage will take time to sort out.

At Viking we’re big believers in worrying about what you can control. Unless you were an active voter in the Brexit referendum, chances are you have little control over the European Union other than an ability to contribute to the economy in some form.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to be mindful of your company’s procedures, mission statement, and approach to business on a global scale.

There might be fluctuation here in North America, but that experience likely pales in comparison to the situation being faced in the UK. People working in the energy sector on the other side of the pond are in the midst of a brand new type of upheaval – hopefully North America can offer support.

How Brexit Relates to Job Safety

The implications of the Brexit vote got us thinking – we’re not politicians, and far be it from us to comment on the right course of action for an entire continent.

But we are excellent observers, and while we can control our own companies and how we do business, Brexit proves that even the best of intentions can have negative side effects.

The drilling industry has never been safer, but it’s not like people working in the oil and gas industry before the turn of the century were actively looking for ways to hurt themselves on the job site. It’s like my Dad says all the time, “Corporations all want you to go home safe these days. Do they think I didn’t want to go home safe 45 years ago when I was working by myself with my welding truck?”

Advancements in safety measures have created a new niche for OEM’s (like us) to offer something valuable to the market.

  • The chance to achieve greater than ever levels of productivity
  • The ability to attract intelligent new recruits
  • The opportunity to work with sophisticated technology

It all sounds like a win-win, no-brainer development, right?

Well, as with the Brexit vote, be careful what you wish for.

Drilling Deeper into a New World

With the developments in safety features over the years, the reality is that for something shiny and new to work, normally that means something else in the industry must be pushed aside to make room.

In a lot of cases, that something else is people.

We’ve all spent time on a project with that guy – the person who takes safety for granted, who’s stuck in the past, and who operates as though he or she is invincible. We’ve all also seen the dangerous consequences of those attitudes.

It’s simple: eliminate those attitudes, eliminate danger in the workplace, right? Well, again, just like Brexit, the expulsion of those attitudes requires the expulsion of people. Easier said than done. Men and women working in the industry developed unique habits and became entrenched in their traditions for a reason. No matter where you’re at in your career, your methods are going to be outdated at some point, too.

Working in a safer environment is good for everyone, right? Well, not so for people who are laid off, released, fired, let go – whatever you want to call it – because they’re failed to adapt with the times.

Safety requires patience. The oil and gas industry hasn’t always been synonymous with patience. Dated values need to find a way to progress with the advancements of tomorrow, but perhaps those leading the charge into a brighter, safer future ought to be aware of the potential damage that future is bringing with it.

It’s easy to rid ourselves of outdated methods, but voting someone off the island because they’re entrenched in their ways could end up being a huge loss.

Besides, we’d surely live to regret it if we made a rash decision.