Why Managing It Matters
The safety of the communities where we operate, and that of EQT’s employee and contractor workforce, is a top priority for the company. Natural gas is a safe and reliable energy form; however, as with the extraction of any form of energy, precautions must be taken in the design of wells, extraction processes and driving to and from sites. We set precautionary standards and work closely with our communities to prevent and prepare for all possible emergencies. Our communities rely on safe, responsible operation of wellpads, employee safety training and regular communications to minimize safety incidents.
Beyond EQT’s commitment to provide a safe and healthy workplace for our employees and contractors (see Occupational Health and Safety for information), we maintain and operate equipment responsibly to create a safe environment in the communities where we operate. EQT’s emergency management efforts focus on prevention, preparedness and response.
We provide safety awareness and emergency response protocols for communities, establish well designs and processes that prioritize safety, manage traffic and provide safe driver training. Our formal Environment, Health and Safety Policy outlines our safety commitment and expectations for our employees and contractors.
Emergency Response Preparation
Operating units develop site-specific emergency action and response plans to prepare for significant risks. Before daily field operations begin, each team must focus on hazard prevention and prepare for an emergency situation by leading a tailgate safety meeting. The Crisis Management team — in conjunction with the Environmental and Safety Departments — provides guidance and expertise in emergency response and crisis management. These functions also develop and maintain emergency notification procedures, training and support.
EQT’s Crisis Management team conducts annual drills to prepare for a range of scenarios that may affect the company. EQT also contracts with experts to provide immediate support in such areas as well control, firefighting and spill response. We investigate and learn from all emergency situations to continuously improve our processes, preparedness and response.
Public Safety Awareness
EQT recognizes that our operations can affect the communities in which we operate. We uphold safety as our number one priority by regularly communicating with our communities to increase awareness of our activities and address potential safety concerns. We work closely with emergency response personnel, public works employees, elected officials, school districts and other key community members to engage them in the process, provide factual information, learn from them and build relationships.
Most often, the awareness and subsequent conversations surround:
- Identification of the activity occurring at a local job site
- The types of equipment being used
- The most appropriate response for various scenarios
- EQT’s emergency or crisis response plan
Through these interactions, EQT and our communities are better prepared to jointly respond in the event safety-related incidents occur. Local officials and first responders become familiar with EQT’s operations and feel more comfortable contacting EQT should an incident or issue arise. Our conversations educate them on what they should and should not do to help EQT resolve an incident quickly and safely. In addition to streamlining the response process to a potential safety incident, these engagements build trust and establish lasting relationships.
A common local community concern is the impact of increased vehicle traffic on municipal roads from our operations vehicles. Over the years, we established routines and trainings to mitigate these concerns and reduce safety incidents. When designing construction routes to job sites, we carefully consider the locations of schools, recreation areas and local population. We base our initial route considerations on safety, which can necessitate longer drives on local roads used by residents. Often, route options are limited to reach a site, so we work with local governments and school districts to maximize the community’s safety and protection. We curtail traffic on roads traveled by school buses and place custom signs along our active truck routes, alerting our drivers and contractors that truck travel is prohibited during school bus pick-up and drop-off times. These signs also alert the community to slow down and watch for children.
Vehicle safety is included in both our employee and contractor safety expectations, and our Contractor Safe Work Rules include a section on safe vehicle operation. At established Marcellus and Utica job sites, we develop a mandated Traffic Control Plan, which we distribute to employees, contractors and subcontractors. These plans outline our specified speed limits, curfews and route restrictions. We actively monitor compliance with our Traffic Control Plans and take prompt action to address reported violations. We utilize private road monitors with law enforcement backgrounds to continuously surveil our truck traffic once construction begins. The road monitors use radar-equipped vehicles and take necessary corrective action if EQT-related traffic creates unsafe driving conditions. They also investigate community complaints regarding any employee or contractor violations. To ensure contractor accountability, we may require contractor vehicles to have GPS systems in their vehicles so we can access their data.
Our Safe Driving Leadership Team, consisting of representatives from Safety, Legal, Human Resources and relevant business unit leaders, develops and updates policies, such as Fleet Safety Procedures, that uphold the safety of our employees and local communities. EQT acts to limit vehicle-related accidents by requiring employees assigned to a company vehicle to complete a comprehensive set of driver training programs and procedures regarding potential hazards and how to avoid them. During orientation, employees learn how to operate a vehicle safely, to be aware of common road hazards, and the best methods to avoid the most common types of accidents.
We work closely with driving safety and industry experts to reduce risk when operating an EQT vehicle. Both new and experienced drivers must demonstrate their safe driving skills through a periodic supervisor-observation session. New employees undergo a series of computer-based training programs and behind-the-wheel training, including a defensive driving module. We provide additional instruction for those employees operating specialty vehicles or haul trailers, performing off-road travel or driving construction vehicles on public roads. One such course is a U.S. Department of Transportation training, which enables drivers to cross state lines and remain in compliance.
We require contractors to record miles driven for EQT in ISNETWorld® to establish contractor preventable vehicle accident rates. EQT’s employees and contractors drove a combined distance of nearly 100 million miles in 20181 For more information regarding our initiatives to enhance vehicle safety for our contractors and employees, see Occupational Health and Safety.
Traffic Control Plan
EQT’s Traffic Control Plan is designed to protect the people in the communities we serve and ensure that our workforce has the proper directions to each of our locations. The plan requires EQT traffic — both employees and contractors — to follow designated routes, EQT speed limits and school bus curfew times throughout our operating area. Speed limit signs apply to all EQT traffic, including pickups, SUVs, construction vehicles and tractor-trailers. Our school bus curfews apply to vehicles with three or more axles and prohibit them from driving on routes during the times of day when schoolchildren are being picked up or dropped off. Additionally, we use road monitors to ensure that the plan is being followed as they monitor for proper route usage, speed and curfews.
Several collaborating parties developed the information in the plan. First, our Construction group determines the best routes to locations and our Land group obtains the required bonding and permitting of the roadways. Our Safety team then works with the thirty-six school districts in our operating area to determine the best bus curfew times for each route. The plan is sent to employees and contractors who work in the field so they can reference it as they travel to and from each site. EQT has received compliments from the school districts who very much appreciate the fact that we work hard to keep the roads safe for the children (and all drivers). One of the transportation directors told us that he calls EQT the “poster company” for how companies should operate in his school district.
Evaluating Our Approach
We track safety incidents to determine the effectiveness of our management approach. EQT experienced one Tier 1 Process Safety event in 2018 when an unexpected pocket of natural gas was encountered during drilling activities that caused a release and site evacuation. No injuries were sustained. EQT received a notice of violation from the Pennsylvania Department of Environment for the Tier 1 natural gas release. Corrective actions taken included equipment modification, procedure updates and an expanded verification process check.
1Includes Midstream business unit contractor miles driven.