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Oil and gas industry skills body unveils groundbreaking safety initiative in the Middle East

18 July 2011

Oil and gas workers in the Middle East will be the first in the world to access a groundbreaking new global training initiative developed to drastically improve safety standards for the global offshore workforce. Senior representatives from the leading national and international oil companies in the region will attend a briefing to hear how the International Minimum Industry Training Standard (IMIST) will ensure workers have the necessary safety knowledge and training.

IMIST has been developed by global oil and gas training standards body OPITO International. It brings, for the first time, a standardised level of basic safety training to an estimated 1.5million people employed in exploration and production activities worldwide. Of those, around 460,000 are based in the Middle East.


It will be delivered in partnership with international learning and skills provider Atlas Interactive via e-learning and tailored to meet each region’s specific workforce, language and geographic needs.


“The tragedy that was Macondo has shaken the sector and put the spotlight firmly back on safety and workforce competence. While there is a level of knowledge and good practice within the existing workforce there is a clear desire in the industry for uniformity when it comes to the safety and competency of its people,” said David Doig, OPITO Group chief executive.


“To date, delivery and content of basic safety and competency training has varied dramatically from region to region and lacks consistency. In an industry like ours where workers from any number of different companies and nationalities are working side by side, a common approach to training is the only way of striving to ensure that everyone can carry out their job to the same high standard and return home safely at the end of the day.


“IMIST sets a new common standard to ensure that everyone, regardless of role or discipline, has the same basic safety understanding. It also addresses the industry’s drive to streamline its efficiency performance by removing the need to continually repeat and duplicate training which is prevalent in the myriad of best intentioned induction and safety programs.”


IMIST will be applied to every member of the current workforce and all new entrants to the industry. The course assesses basic safety knowledge in nine subject areas including risk assessment, asset integrity, the use of hazardous substances, working at height and mechanical lifting among other subjects.


“We recognise that adopting common industry standards and engaging the essential support to apply them uniformly across the board is a challenge, but there is a real prize out there,” added Doig.


“Safety is paramount and the industry has a fundamental duty to make sure that its people are competent and trained to the best possible standards. Training people consistently to the same level will bring significant safety improvements but it is up to each individual company to implement the standards.


“At an individual level, every worker should have confidence that their fellow worker has the same level of competence in the hazards and risks in the workplace and how they are best addressed.”


OPITO is committed to improving safety and reducing risk for people, assets and companies in one of the most hazardous working environments. The organisation works with Governments, national oil companies, multi-nationals and contractors to provide independent advice and guidance on effective management of workforce skills development, emergency response and occupational standards and qualifications and quality assurance of training delivery.


Its world class training network spans 30 countries with more than 200,000 people each year training to OPITO standards.


To help employers manage the introduction of IMIST, an innovative and flexible approach to learning and assessment has been taken. This encompasses a two day initial classroom-based course for all new entrants; and an e-learning Minimum Safety Reassessment and Refresher Program for existing workers to demonstrate knowledge of basic safety elements.


John Rowley, chief executive officer of Atlas Interactive said: “Each country has its own distinct needs and IMIST provides the platform for increasing the performance of the national workforce whilst ensuring a standardised playing field in terms of safety and competency.


“It has the potential to not only help individual businesses improve their own efficiency, but also the industry overall by enhancing the skills set of the transient workforce,  making a significant contribution towards the creation of a safer workplace for all and providing a solid foundation from which to grow further in the future.”


IMIST will be rolled out across 30 countries worldwide throughout Asia, Africa and the United States over the next two years.

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