Strengthening our culture and relationships
Every leader, employee and contractor at Devon is expected to actively participate in making Devon a safe place to work. Our values guide us to do what’s right, manage risk, stop work, and support and empower each other to stay safe. We empower our team by providing comprehensive resources to help them work safely and measuring leading and lagging indicators to drive improvement. Setting corporate safety goals and incorporating safety metrics into our compensation focuses everyone at Devon on the actions that will make us safer.
We’re committed to integrating the guiding principles in our Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Philosophy into all decisions that affect our operations. Compliance with applicable safety laws, regulations, policies and protocols is one of these principles, and we reinforce it in our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, EHS Policy and safety orientation, training and engagements.
Our governance structure supports Devon’s commitment to making safety our top priority. The Governance, Environmental, and Public Policy (GEPP) Committee of our board of directors reviews our safety performance and keeps the full board informed. Devon’s executive vice president and chief operating officer (COO) is responsible for our safety performance. In 2021, we created the new position of vice president of environmental, social and governance (ESG) and EHS reporting to the COO to elevate the visibility and importance of ESG and EHS strategy, activities and disclosures.
Devon senior leaders oversee safety policy and performance, with support from the EHS Council, and the ESG Committee supports management’s commitment to safety and health. In turn, our workforce is empowered to take the necessary time and actions to perform work safely and stop work if they see a safety risk.
Setting safety and health strategy
To drive continuous improvement, the Devon EHS Council sets safety and health strategy and helps ensure implementation. To enhance our strategy and alignment, we’ve steadily expanded council membership to include EHS, ESG, operations, business unit and facility managers. The council meets regularly to monitor performance, share lessons learned and engage in roundtable discussions to keep the organization updated on stakeholder expectations for EHS performance.
In 2021, the council played the critical role of identifying and advancing safety priorities following the merger of Devon and WPX. By year-end, the council had established recommendations for targets and strategy for ESG and EHS goals, transitioned to the legacy WPX contractor management system and centralized incident management reporting. Integration of legacy company data, EHS protocols and training is continuing in 2022.
In addition to tracking Devon safety performance, council members engage with peer companies in our operating basins to improve company and industry performance in safety, public policy, the environment and other key areas. Devon plans to lead a strategic roundtable in the Permian Basin in 2022 to collaboratively identify trends and best practices for operating responsibly.
Building on our positive EHS culture
Encouraging a strong EHS culture at Devon is an ongoing priority for the EHS Council and to the broader organization. We believe that the care and concern we show our workforce can have a positive impact on their safety and health at work and at home. We’ve learned from our field leaders that transparent communications, positive safety behaviors, proactive reporting and safely meeting operational goals are both signs and outcomes of a healthy EHS culture. The council assesses our EHS culture regularly to identify the most effective approaches and programs to foster strong safety performance.
We begin instilling our safety culture on an employee’s first day on the job. During new-hire orientation, they learn the safety behaviors we expect and incorporate into the employee appraisal process: visible commitment, accountability, anticipation, participation, recognition and communication. We keep the safety conversation and engagement going throughout their career.
Job competency is one of our EHS guiding principles, and we emphasize the quality of safety training over the quantity. A combination of online and hands-on training is offered to office and field workers based on their job responsibilities. All employees and contractors must complete our field safety briefing if they work on or visit field locations. Contractors also must complete our Devon Orientation through Veriforce, our third-party contractor performance network. Our training reinforces our requirement to immediately report any incident or near-miss event and to be accountable for our own and others’ safety.
The people working closest to the wellhead play a critical role in shaping our EHS culture. To actively seek their input, three production field offices (Gillette, Wyoming, Killdeer, North Dakota, and Carlsbad, New Mexico) formed field safety committees. These committees comprise of operators, technicians, optimizers and other field personnel. They meet monthly to discuss issues and concerns from the field and make recommendations for improvement. Some examples include: replacing pneumatic actuated dumps with electric actuated dumps in treater buildings to reduce lower explosive limit (LEL) levels, installing appropriate platforms and laddering on rod pump units to provide proper fall protection for operators, and developing additional Job Hazard Analyses (JHA) for higher risk activities.
To foster our positive EHS culture and behaviors, in 2021 Devon developed the Safe Work Award Program (SWAP) to recognize and reward proactive reporting for contractors and employees who go beyond minimum EHS requirements. Through SWAP, which combines elements of recognition programs from both legacy companies, each business unit can present up to three employees per month with a $200 recognition award. Business units are also allotted $1,500 per quarter to recognize the best near miss, good catch or hazard identification.
Engaging our workforce
Our Hearts and Minds workshops have been a core element of our safety engagement efforts with service, rig and contract drilling crews and leaders across Devon since 2014. During the workshops, we share our safety culture and approach to effective communication, continuous improvement, integrity and situational awareness to reduce safety risk.
We adapt the content to meet the needs of our workforce and business, which prompted us to recognize the ongoing impacts COVID-19 in our 2021 workshops and onboardings. Participants told us they appreciated the honest discussions about mental health and tools to address mental health issues, including Devon’s Employee Assistance Program, and suicide prevention and crisis hotline information. Hearts and Minds continues to be a place to talk openly about challenges and listen to our workforce as we drive home why safety is so important to Devon.
Participant feedback from our Hearts and Minds workshops:
“Love how you shared about mental health to remind people to be kind or even if an individual is going through something how to seek help.”
“Hearts & Minds will motivate you to be as safe as you can throughout the day and make it home to your family every day. I really feel like this workshop helps us become better people at the end of the day.”
“This course made me believe that Devon really does care about my safety.”
Stop Work Responsibility
Proactively managing safety risks is a key factor in maintaining safe working conditions. Starting with new-hire safety orientation and continuing on our work sites, we emphasize the importance of Stop Work Responsibility. Employees have the right, responsibility and obligation to speak up and stop any action, task or behavior that is or could be unsafe. It’s also a way we live our value of courage, and Devon pledges to support anyone who exercises their Stop Work Responsibility. We capture and track proactive stops and good catches, and recognize individuals for stopping work to safeguard themselves, each other and the environment.
The contract partners who provide work in the field are vital to safe, environmentally responsible and efficient operations, and building relationships with them to succeed as one team is a Devon value. We seek to work with contractors who have the strongest safety programs and track records, and we strive to work only with approved contractors who complete our supplier qualification process and meet our substantial policy and insurance requirements. Contractors are responsible for having EHS programs that meet or exceed all federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations, as well as Devon’s standards and protocols for essential safety activities.
As part of integrating best practices, in 2021 we transitioned to Veriforce for third-party contractor verification and management. Our Veriforce dashboard allows us to monitor a contractor’s compliance with our EHS, insurance, OSHA verification and other requirements, and enables contractors to upload needed documentation. In addition, we use a separate third-party service to monitor contractors’ compliance with our drug and alcohol policy.
We require contractors to perform high-quality, safe and environmentally sound work. Contractors are expected to provide and retain quality personnel who are adequately trained to perform their jobs safely, and we work constantly to raise the level of contractor safety performance through training and engagement.
Contractors must complete the widely used SafeLand, RigPass or equivalent safety training to work with Devon, unless specifically exempted by our EHS Contractor Management protocol. These programs and Devon’s contractor safety orientation are available on the Veriforce eLearning platform. Our field orientation reviews critical safety rules for specific activities performed on field locations, such as fall protection, confined space, hot work, energy isolation, spill prevention and waste management, among others. Oil haulers and all other contractors who work in transportation must complete safety briefings specific to their work. Devon’s company website provides contractors with easy access to our safety requirements, expectations, protocols, Safety Data Sheets (SDS), forms and tools.
Before starting work, crews participate in pre-task tailgate meetings to proactively manage risk and raise awareness of the potential risks and exposures, required personal protective equipment (PPE) and other aspects of the job.
Leadership engagements in the field can have a positive impact on our workforce, safety performance and operational excellence. Our field personnel wear hard hat stickers that say “Ask me my reason for working safely” to encourage safety-related engagements. The conversations that result often reveal that people work safely so they can return home to their family and friends — a higher motivation than simply following procedures.
To continue building relationships with contractors, in 2022 our field safety professionals are working with each of our business units to select contract companies to audit with the goal of strengthening our partnerships and identifying opportunities for EHS performance improvement. They’re reviewing contractor EHS programs, making field visits and interviewing contractor crews to ensure their understanding and alignment of these programs. If any issues are found, they will develop action plans to help bring contractors up to standard.
For contractors who perform work on Devon’s locations, we plan to begin annual evaluations of their performance in key ESG areas in 2023. We have begun working with Veriforce to develop a Devon ESG module to add to our contractor dashboard to help us achieve this goal. We believe this will help us understand how contractors align with our core ESG priorities, encourage constructive engagements with contractors who perform services directly on our work sites and ultimately enhance our supplier relationships.
Auditing field and process compliance
Audits to identify and correct safety concerns are an element of Devon’s EHS Management System. Each business unit is required to perform an annual safety self-audit of compliance with regulations and our EHS protocols. Findings of noncompliance and suggestions for improvement are recorded in our Incident Management System (IMS) and tracked to closure. Business unit EHS professionals lead the audits, with guest auditors from other business units on hand to share best practices and lessons learned.
More than half of the audit time is spent at field locations, focusing on sites where work is under way so auditors can engage employees and contractors. Auditors also check training, competency and inspection records and other documentation. We share trends observed and lessons learned during audits across the company to drive improvement.
Devon’s internal audit team provides an additional layer of review by performing operational audits in our field offices to examine processes and controls for supply chain, inventory, fleet management and other functions. Internal audit also periodically assesses the field audit process and recommends improvement opportunities. For example, Devon internal auditors suggested including guest auditors in business unit audits to provide an independent voice.
Audits have also led to streamlining to one toll-free number for ethics, EHS and other issues across all Devon locations. Over time, the corrective actions we complete to address audit findings can lead to safety, operational and process improvements.
Devon sets corporate safety goals every year to focus our efforts to improve performance. We want to prevent SIFs and all injuries and incidents so our employees and contractors can return home safely every day.
We achieved our corporate safety goals in 2021 by reducing our SIF event rate (for employees + contractors) to 0.07 per 200,000 hours worked, which was significantly lower than the goal and the 2020 rate, and utilizing SIF learnings throughout Devon to prevent future occurrences. We believe this resulted from the open and transparent evaluation and integration of legacy company best practices following the merger, as well as our focus on safe operations throughout the year. We place special emphasis on the SIF rate because we want to prevent life-threatening and life-altering incidents, and to understand high-risk near misses to help us improve.
SIF investigations are led by each business unit and reviewed and shared by the EHS Council. In 2021, they identified root causes and assigned a wide range of corrective actions, including coaching vendor rig crews, adding trainings, changing and increasing training on protocols, and updating policies. During the higher-risk summer holidays, the drilling and completions team recorded zero SIFs by increasing communications, engagements and re-focus meetings.
We also review SIFs where no one was injured and industry SIFs to better understand trends, mitigations and best practices. Devon is a founding participant in a voluntary industry program driving to eliminate SIF events in U.S. onshore E&P operations. Participants in the API Onshore Safety Alliance (OSA) commit to support the OSA guiding principles, industry sharing and learning, and to carry out a Life Saving Actions program, risk assessments, incident investigations and other safety actions.
To give a comprehensive view of our safety performance, Devon also tracks the Days Away Restricted Rate (DART), Lost Time Incident Rate (LTIR) and Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) for employees and contractors. In 2021, our TRIR (for employees + contractors) increased 14% compared to 2020, with hand and finger injuries accounting for 42% of recordable injuries in 2021. We started off 2022 with a companywide stand-down to have meaningful discussions on preventing hand and finger injuries. In addition, workover operations team leaders gave crews custom Devon gloves and encouraged them to wear them and take to heart the message printed on the wrist: “MY Fingers = MY Future = MY Family.” To keep the injury prevention conversation going, many crews hung a special Devon alert in their workspace.
2022 corporate safety goals
Devon’s 2022 corporate safety goals continue our mission to protect the lives of our employees, contractors and communities. Based on our underlying metrics, the goals are weighted toward leading indicators, and demonstrate our level of commitment to safety and to delivering a superior safety culture.
Safety accounts for 50% of the company’s ESG goal in 2022, or 7.5% of the overall corporate scorecard. SIF event reduction represents the largest portion of the safety goal. Utilizing SIF learnings to reduce SIF exposure and events and improve processes, culture and workplace safety remains a companywide goal for the fourth year.
Guided by our values to always do what’s right, support each other and proactively manage risk, we continue to empower the entire Devon team with the culture, tools and processes to work safely.