Azerbaijan’s inaugural International Safety Leadership Conference, held in the capital city of Baku in December 2012, represents a step toward improved occupational safety for a country experiencing rapid growth in the oil and gas industry.
During the conference, Azerbaijan’s Member of Parliament Rauf Aliyev and Karim Agayev, state supervision of construction, ministry of emergency situations team leader, invoked a popular quote from Azerbaijan’s former president, Heydar Aliyev: “It is much easier to prevent an incident than to deal with its outcome after it happens.”
Significant projects in the Baku, Azerbaijan, region include the development of the Turkmenistan Nabucco gas pipeline being built to transport gas to Central and Western Europe; the Sangachal Terminal, one of the largest oil and gas facilities in the world; and the Baku-Tibilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Such projects point to a growing need for sophisticated occupational safety and health systems and leadership.
The conference was sponsored and organized by the Baku-based Rovshan Oguz Group. The group’s founder and president, Hafiz Mustafayev, opened the event by outlining the conference’s purpose: “To organize in an atmosphere of trust and confidence, provide a safe work environment, provide an open and honest relationship, to ensure the full involvement of employees of various trades, and to provide knowledge, skills and opportunities to improve the quality of work and beneficial relations with suppliers are roles of leadership in our company.”
ASSE Offers Safety Guidance
Representatives from the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) attended the conference to contribute their insights to Azerbaijan’s safety efforts. ASSE Richard A. Pollock, CSP, said “the need is great” for occupational safety information and education in Azerbaijan.
“The country has a rapidly growing oil and gas industry and they are working to meet the demands of this industry growth,” Pollock said. “Hence, we are helping by providing them with information, resources and guidance needed on developing and implementing workplace safety and health programs now.”
Pollock’s conference presentation focused on human error and error in the context of work systems. He stressed that employers must break the “blame cycle” and instead focus on learning what contributed to an incident and improving safety performance.
ASSE joined business executives, EHS professionals, construction engineers, labor inspectors, loss control managers, infrastructure managers, operations supervisors, training center managers, aviation safety engineers, insurance professionals and many more who attended the conference. Companies represented included Schlumberger, Silkway Business Aviation, Standard Insurance, Waterman, SOCAR, Rolls-Royce, BP, Rigmarine Azerbaijan, Bureau Veritas, Gulf Drilling, Halliburton, Atlantic Waste Solution, ProAct Safety Inc. and the Azerbaijan Ministry of Labour and Social Protection.
“In our tour of the oil and gas facility in Baku, I was impressed with their commitment to protecting people, property and the environment,” Pollock said. “The international safety leadership conference also demonstrates this commitment. Being part of the Baku event was a historic moment for ASSE, the occupational safety, health and environmental profession and the countries represented at the meeting. They are embracing workplace safety at a rapid pace, and we continue to help them.”