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2010 CEOs Who 'Get It'

February 1, 2010

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Robert E. McGough

President & CEO
DynMcDermott Petroleum Operations Co.

DynMcDermott Petroleum Operations Co. was created to provide management and operating services to the Department of Energy on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve project to store crude oil to reduce the adverse economic impact of a major petroleum supply interruption to the United States. As the M&O contractor, DM provides all of the resources needed to operate the four SPR crude oil storage facilities, the corporate organization and a warehouse in Mississippi. Headquartered in New Orleans, DM has 520 employees.

Why is safety a core value at your organization?

DynMcDermott has always held safety as a core value and an integral part of our strategic planning because we believe safety, health and environmental responsibility is the morally right thing to do. As an added bonus, the SH&E responsibility, when fully embraced, has the benefit of adding much more to the bottom line than the cost. DynMcDermott’s greatest assets are its people, and we believe foremost we have a duty to care for our employees, their families and their communities. We also believe that by creating an organizational culture that reflects this belief, we substantially benefit our client, the Department of Energy.p>

How do you instill a sense of safety in your employees on an ongoing basis?

We have consciously created a culture where safety permeates our business and operating systems. We involve our employees with a more than 12-year-old behavioral safety process and active participation in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs through their leadership of the committees that manage the operation of those programs. Our employees have ownership in the safety process, which has created their buy-in. All of our employees recently discussed with their supervisors the application of our seven-point commitment to safety to their work area and activities. Afterward, each employee and supervisor signed the commitment as recognition of their partnership in maintaining a safe workplace. Then the SH&E director and I each signed one, personally documenting our companywide commitment to their safety and the safety of their co-workers. I also try to demonstrate a strong personal safety ethic in my daily behavior and expect the same of my senior staff.

What is the biggest obstacle to safety in your workplace, and how do you overcome it?

The obstacles have changed as our safety management systems have evolved. When DynMcDermott first started managing the reserve, our biggest obstacle could probably be summed up in one sentence: “We’ve always done it that way.” That obstacle has been overcome. Our biggest obstacle currently is perception of risk and even-handed implementation of change. Senior management may recognize a risk and implement changes designed to mitigate or remove it, but the corrective actions or improvements may not appear to be implemented equally throughout all of the organization or they may trickle down at different speeds because someone doesn’t recognize or fully understand the risk. A large part of resolving this rests on communication, and we are working hard to improve communication at all levels of the organization. Often it’s first-level management that seems to be left out, which is why we are working to reinforce the safety partnership between co-workers and their supervisors.

How does safety “pay” at your company?

  • Safety goals appear on supervisors’ performance appraisals, making them ultimately responsible for safety.
  • Our facilities have always been monitored to ensure productivity, compliance and customer service goals are met. Safety has been given equal weight with those measures.
  • Our safety and risk management specialist monitors violations to avoid repetition of past mistakes. He also monitors Experience Modifiers for each facility with an emphasis on reducing them for all. Safety violations must be corrected within 30 days.

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