Faces of EHS

Faces of EHS: Moving Beyond Compliance with Gary LoPiccolo of DYNESI

In this installment of Faces of EHS, we are continuing our focus on the amazing EHS professionals who won our 2020 Safety Standout Awards! This week, we’re proud to present the winner of BLR’s Moving Beyond Compliance Award, Dynamic Energy Services International, LLC (DYNESI). Read on to meet Gary LoPiccolo, CSP, the Vice President of Safety, Health, and Environment (SH&E), then join us when we hold a virtual awards ceremony next week at our online summit EHS Now: An Online Educational Experience.

Gary LoPiccolo
How did you get your start in the environment, health, and safety (EHS) field?

After graduating with my BS in Marketing, I realized that I did not love the marketing side of business. Through visits with fraternity brothers, family, friends, and past professors, I was encouraged and convinced to return to school to obtain my master’s degree in Industrial Safety Management. Upon graduating from the master’s program, I started my career with Phillips Petroleum. At Phillips, I was fortunate enough to be mentored by several passionate health, safety, and environment (HSE) professionals who provided me with guidance, all while allowing me the opportunity to learn from my mistakes.

What is the biggest EHS compliance challenge at your organization, and how have you managed it?

As an offshore fabricator, maintenance, and construction contractor, our employees are on different client locations. Even though our clients’ management may set high HSE expectations, we encounter varying HSE cultures within these organizations. Sometimes these HSE cultures differ from a field level, a facility, or the A and B crews.

Managing our culture at these different locations can be difficult, but it is not impossible. The key for us has been the development and communication of our organization’s SH&E expectations. To support our SH&E expectations, we developed a comprehensive SH&E management system and database. Establishing and monitoring our key performance indicators (KPIs) has allowed our management and field supervision to monitor our engagement with our employees. In addition to monitoring our KPIs, it has been essential for us to perform several things, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Providing the needed resources and support to our employees so they can perform their jobs properly, and, ultimately, safely;
  • Continually evaluating our employees’ perceptions through surveys and then developing improvement plans to enhance these perceptions;
  • Providing leadership and communication training to our management and field supervision; and
  • Enhancing our employees’ craft skills and knowledge through criterion-based evaluations by supervisors and leadership (competencies).

We realize that this will be an ongoing challenge for our organization, and as a management team, we must continually show our care and concern for our employees and their families.

Are there any EHS challenges unique to the work you do that could prove instructive to other EHS professionals?

Different organizational cultures can be unique to those organizations that work at multiple facilities not under their control. The key to maintaining our culture has been our management visibly demonstrating our care and concern for our employees through our worksite visits, prejob meetings, etc.

Moving an organization’s safety program “beyond compliance” often requires rebuilding (or retooling) the safety culture. What steps did your safety team take to ensure the program’s success?

Our SH&E team is continually evaluating and enhancing our SH&E management system. As a part of our enhancements, we engage our management and field supervision for their thoughts and concerns. These engagements have enabled us to provide value-added processes, procedures, and systems that enable our employees to arrive home safely. The continual monitoring of our performance allows us to better manage our progress while evaluating the system’s effectiveness.

Did the culture shift lead to pushback from members of the team? If so, how did you address worker concerns?

It is human nature to hate or dislike change. We have learned through the years the importance of demonstrating how the proposed changes add value to the individual and positively reinforce the need for the change. This can only be accomplished by engaging our employees at all levels.

Do you have any insights you can share with those EHS professionals working for organizations that are preparing to reopen?

As an organization, develop a plan that demonstrates employees’ safety is paramount. Effectively communicate the organization’s plan to reopen, along with individual responsibilities and a schedule for reopening. Start slowly, and monitor the plan implementation and effectiveness.

We are experiencing sad, unprecedented times that are affecting everyone. As an organization, we must remember that external stresses can affect our employees’ mind-set and performance. By anticipating potential error traps that lead to errors, we can elevate both our employees’ safety performance and efficiency.

We learned about a process from a competitor that helped us identify individuals who may not be performing at their best. This process is called the “Check-In” process. Each morning, during our SH&E meeting, our employees identify how they are feeling. This is performed by providing a percentage point to each other. This percentage is meant for them to personally evaluate their mental and physical health for the day. Should an employee provide a lower percentage (75%), this provides our field supervisor with the knowledge to visit with the employee (one on one) to better understand what may be going on, as well as gives the field supervisor the insight on assignment duties and possibly avoiding assigning employees to high-risk activities.

Finally, be willing to change the plan or delay your progress should the evaluations indicate a change or a delay is needed. Establishing schedule milestones is important, but meeting a milestone may lead to greater business risk in completing the overall schedule and safety of our employees.

What do you like the most about your career in EHS?

There is satisfaction in the ability to work with diverse organizations, which enables me to continually learn new and innovative ways for our organization to enhance our systems, and improve our employees’ ability to arrive home safely.

What is the most difficult or frustrating part of your job?

As an organization, we track our leading and lagging indicators. Several years ago, we decided to start evaluating our incidents based on the risk associated with the incidents. During this process, we evaluate and compare both the potential and the actual consequences, along with the increasing likelihood. From this evaluation, we can better determine which incidents need to be investigated further and the establishment of lessons learned.

Through this process, we have realized a perception that some organizations only care if an incident has an “R” (Recordable) word associated with the incident. Dealing with organizations that only demonstrate care and concern when the “R” word was associated with the incident has become frustrating. We find there are potentially just as many, or more, lessons learned from incidents that seem minor.

Leaders need to remember “How we react to an incident matters,” no matter what the classification of the incident may be.

What do you see as the main emerging trends, both positive and negative, affecting the future of the EHS profession?

The power of data management can be both positive and negative. Our ability to identify and monitor value-added data is imperative. Unfortunately, focusing on data and statistics may lead to “losing the individual” among numbers and information.

We need to improve our understanding and consideration that human performance is the underlying contributor to most incidents. We must remember not to be blinded by the data but use the data to help better understand the factors and stresses that contribute to individuals making errors, performing at-risk behaviors, and not addressing hazardous conditions in a timely manner.

What’s your favorite job-related story that you like to tell others?

One day, I was outside visiting with a few employees who were attending our New Employee Orientation/SH&E training. While outside, I overheard a conversation between several returning employees and an individual new to our organization. The new individual told the other individuals how the training was the best he received but can’t believe we mean what we say. The returning employees immediately responded with “This is one organization that means what they say” and provided examples of how we demonstrate our commitment to our employees’ safety.

What advice do you have for people just entering or transitioning into the profession?

This rewarding profession can also be challenging. It is essential to find a mentor. Seek someone with whom you feel comfortable talking to and trust that he or she will tell you when you are right or wrong about situations. Be passionate about our profession. Visit the employees in their environment, and remember to show how your observations or recommendations add value to the individual and, ultimately the organization.

Celebrating Award Winners at EHS Now

We will further celebrate the accomplishments of our 2020 Safety Standout Award winners in a virtual awards ceremony just before the closing keynote of our new summit EHS Now: An Online Educational Experience. In addition to honoring our award winners, this online event promises a wide variety of educational sessions for environment, health, and safety managers and professionals.

This one-day, free virtual summit will take place on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (EDT). Attend all 7 sessions, choose the ones most relevant to you, or receive recordings of the sessions you are unable to attend—all at no cost! Click here to learn more and to register today.

Gary LoPiccolo, CSP, graduated in 1991 from Central Missouri State University with a Masters of Science Degree in Industrial Safety Management. In the fall of 1995, he started working for his current employer, Dynamic Energy Services International, LLC (DYNESI). During his 25-year tenure, he has held a number of different positions from Safety Consultant to his current position as the VP of SH&E.

Dynamic Industries, Inc. (“Dynamic”) was founded in 1985 as an offshore services company, specializing in interconnecting pipe fabrication, associated pipe installation and commissioning, and offshore maintenance services.

Through a change of ownership in 1998, Dynamic quickly grew to become one of the premier hook up and commissioning contractors in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2007, one of the largest private equity firms in the U.S. acquired majority ownership in Dynamic. With significant investment and human assets, Dynamic Industries expanded its footprint globally and now operates in West Africa, Mexico, Caribbean, South America, and the Middle East. In 2012 our parent company changed its name from Moreno Group, LLC to Dynamic Energy Services International, LLC (DYNESI) to better represent what it had become. Today DYNESI has grown into a full line energy service company through its four Strategic Business units.

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Would you like to be profiled in a future Faces of EHS and share your experiences, challenges, etc.? Or, do you know anyone else in EHS you think has an interesting story to tell? Write us at jscace@blr.com and cdouyard@blr.com and include your name and contact information; be sure to put “Faces of EHS” in the subject line.