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Using Predictive Analytics to Improve Health and Safety with Richard Hoffman

The use of predictive analytics to improve safety | Richard Hoffman (Expert Interview #6)


Here we interview Richard Hoffman VO HSEQ for US Well Services. With Richard, we discuss the use of predictive analytics in the field of EHS and transformation in the wider field of health and safety.

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– [Paul] Right next up we have Richard Hoffman, the VP of HSEQ for U.S Well Services. Richard is the leader of HSEQ for U.S. Well Services, Inc, a Houston, Texas-based oil field well stimulation services provider to the upstream oil and gas industry. USWS currently utilizes its conventional diesel multipass and electric frac fleets referred to as clean fleet to complete high-pressure hydraulic fracturing services within unconventional oil and natural gas basins throughout the United States.


Today, we’re really excited to talk to Richard about transformation in EHS and the use of predictive analytics to improve safety and gain actionable insights. Over to you, Richard. Well, we’re delighted today to have Mr. Richard Hoffman VP of HSEQ for U.S Well Services. Welcome, sir, to the HSE Network and also to HSE North America Congress which you attended this read.

– [Richard] Well, thank you very much. I really do appreciate the opportunity and please know that the conference has definitely exceeded my expectations, I’m very happy to be here.


– That’s amazing. Thank you so much for being here. Just for the benefit of the viewers, really, Richard is a leader for HSEQ for U.S. Well Services, Inc, in Houston, Texas and it’s based oil field well stimulation service provider, I believe, to the upstream oil and gas industry. So USWS currently utilizes its conventional diesel and multi paid to the electric frac fleets referred to as clean fleet, I believe to complete high-pressure hydraulic fracturing services within unconventional or unnatural gas basins throughout the United States.


Today, we’re privileged to have you do an interview with us on tech transformation in EHS, something that I know for a fact, we’ve talked a lot about at our events over the past 12 months, and that’s looking at the use perhaps more of predictive analytics, predictive data analytics to help improve safety and gain more, I guess actionable insights, you know, to call data outcomes.


We’ve come a long way from, you know, what a lot of people would call, I suppose, paper-pushing industry, you know, very conventional approach and clipboards and pens. And digital transformation is booming if we don’t, I guess keep up with the pace of change certainly in health and safety and what is perhaps maybe a bureaucratic industry but certainly, with the rise of gen Zs and millennials, you know, we see that we have to keep up with the pace of change in order to survive, you know, it’s very much like that in safety as it is in tech today.


How do you perhaps feel, Richard, that digital transformation is somewhat impacting the health and safety industry and how will technologies, maybe data and processes support being able to manage protocols and drive our guests some more efficient safety future for businesses?


– Well, Paul, excellent question, thank you very much. As far as the technology side of it goes, this is a technology-driven industry and quite frankly, all industries are somewhat technology-driven. But our job is to stay at the forefront of technology, not just for technology’s sake, but to provide our employees, our customers, our shareholders, the general public with the safest operation possible.


What we do is inherently dangerous, we poke a big hole in the earth and allow a flammable corrosive liquid to come up at high pressure that could explode at any second. We have to be able to manage that. My whole goal for the cultural transformation of not only our company but our industry is the realization that the dirty little secret of safety is, it’s risk management.


Like I said, what we do is inherently dangerous, so in order to manage your risk we have to identify it. The goal of all training, all processes, all procedures, there should be that underlying theme of risk identification. If I have a whole company of risk identification experts, they can identify the risk and then they can manage it.


The technology that we’re using is getting the proper information into the right people’s hands at the right time and that’s not only going from the office to the field but going from the field to the office as well. Sometimes we feel like we’re buried in data and information points. The key thing here is figuring out of all that data we get what’s important. A long time ago the problem was getting the information, well, now we have the information, it’s sifting through it and being able to figure out what’s important.


You mentioned predictive analytics and I think that has to be a big part of safety not only in our industry but in every industry going forward. Predictive analytics is a real thing, it’s happening out there already and quite frankly this industry is probably a bit behind the curve a little bit on this. I’ve heard of some places who are trying to do it organically in-house on their own, they’re getting contractors to do it, whatever, that part’s not important, what’s important is that we’re embracing this technology and the concept of it.


Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had all these millions of data points and we could plug them all into an algorithm and this algorithm spit out and said, red crew is going to have a spill Thursday night? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could have that data and then we can act on it? And then that spill never happens, which means our bean counters are going to say, “See, we didn’t need it, why did we spend all this money?”


But if we can act on that beforehand, be predictive about it and be proactive about it, I think that’s definitely where we need to go as an industry.


– I mean, it’s exciting times, right?


– It really is.


– Working safety. And I guess we haven’t really saying too much change in technologies that we use to keep people safe in decades. You know, now we’re starting to see a series of new technologies that could really transform how we can protect people at work. But I guess my question to yourself is, how can we perhaps understand what we’re getting into a bit more and have we considered how to do this perhaps this implementation of technology in a more ethical, engaging, and informed way that really sort of delivers benefit to the individual and the organization?


– I think that in your question there are the two most important words that you used were ethical and engaging. Yes, there always has to be that ethical component to it. We’re getting all this information, can we act on it? Can we use it in the proper way? It’s all about driving behavior. In every industry, it’s just human performance, it really is that simple.


So with all this technology we’re giving it, it gives us access to a tremendous amount of information, what do we want to do with it? And that’s the discussions we have to have beforehand before we implement it, before we write the first line of code, before we even start thinking about an algorithm, what do we want to do with this?


We want to drive behavior, we want to allow people to make safe decisions consistently. You mentioned engaging as well. It has to be something that the employees, the people in the field, the ones who are actually in harm’s way, military term is downrange, the people who are downrange, do they see the benefit of it? Because sometimes we’re going to ask them some questions, we might have to ask them to wear things, or us an app or interface with some piece of equipment that’s not part of what they’re paid to do.


So do they see the benefit of it? And quite frankly, that’s my job to sell them on the benefit. But yes, all this technology is out there, we do have to use it ethically but we have to make sure that the people who are using it understand the benefits.


– It makes perfect sense. I mean there’s an influx of apps and as wearables and I think it’s reading a press release an article how wearable device market is going to boom to billion-pound industry in the next 10 years. But I guess, as you know, and as you were rightfully saying, it creates a considerably large amount of data generated.


But HSE leaders are not IT or data scientists that’s what sort of boggles me and even with yourself, Richard. You know, how do we turn this data into an actionable insight so that we can predict and improve safety across the business and how are you sourcing I guess the knowledge to be able to do that more effectively within your role specifically as HSE leader?


– Again, great question. You’re right, I’m not a data analyst, I’m not a data expert, I’ve got a smattering of math in my background and that’s about it. But our internally we have a technology team and our chief technology officer has been supporting me in these efforts and it’s really going to be a joint venture going forward. But you’re right, this isn’t something we can do totally organically in-house, we just don’t have the bandwidth, we don’t have the proper levels of expertise in the right area.


So some of this data work, some of this project we’re definitely going to need help with from the outside. We feel that we’re the experts in what data is important. If you want to think of it as pure weighting the data, like we know that these KPIs, these metrics definitely drive behavior in the field, so we have to weight those a little heavier but it’s all the rest of it.


It’s writing the algorithm, it’s coming up with the processes, it’s the alerts, it’s really the technology behind it, that’s where we definitely need the help.


– Well, I can’t thank you enough again, Richard, it has been an absolute pleasure having you in Houston for this event.


– Thank you very much, I really do appreciate it.


– You’re more than welcome.


– Thank you.