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Safety is a way of life in Shell

[BATANGAS CITY/AUGUST 2013] Making Shell synonymous with safety seems ironic in Batangas City where its lorry trucks painted “flammable” rumble through the streets, and its giant tanks of fuel oils and gas hug a coastline.

But no less than the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) declared Shell an invaluable safety partner during its 22nd anniversary celebration last August 2.

Shell Tabangao Refinery and Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX), along with the Batangas City Government and Barangay Ambulong, were among 25 local government units and eight private individuals and partners who were cited for supporting the BFP.

That the company was awarded along with its government partners reveals the secret behind its success – multisectoral collaboration,  which is a clear example of a private-public partnership between and among  Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. (PSPC), through the Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI) and the Malampaya Foundation, Inc. (MFI), working with various government and nongovernment organizations in Batangas City to promote safety beyond the workplace and into its neighboring communities.

“People assume that where there’s oil, there’s fire. But they have to see that oil firms cannot operate, more so thrive, in an unsafe environment. Safety is part of our culture in Shell, but it doesn’t mean much to our neighbors unless we manifest safety in ways that are meaningful to them,” says Refinery’s Operations Manager Andrew Castueras.

Strengthening response

Last April, Shell inaugurated a fire sub-station located in Barangay Ambulong, marking a first for public-private partnerships for public safety in the country.

The community fire station, built through the efforts of PSPC, Malampaya Joint Venture Partners, Batangas City Government, Barangay Ambulong and Bureau of Fire Protection - Batangas City, is expected to speed up response or rescue during emergencies not only in Ambulong, but also in 11 other coastal barangays nearby.

“It will now be easy for us to respond in case of fire incidents,” said Ambulong Barangay Chairman Jayferson Berberabe, citing Ambulong’s distance of some eight kilometers from the city proper, where the main fire station is located.

The proximity of the fire sub-station to the Shell Refinery and Malampaya On-shore Gas Plant also assures residents that regular calibration will be done on the fire apparatus systems of both facilities to ensure that these are in top firefighting form.

Shell helped fund the construction of the facility while Batangas City and Barangay Ambulong provided the lot area, office equipment and personnel. The BFP-Batangas City operates and mans the sub-station with the support of the Neighborhood and Emergency Services Team (NEST), a community volunteer group trained and organized by Shell.

Building capacity

The facility, however, is just one of the many ways that Shell promote Safety in the communities.  Since 2000, Shell has been helping communities organize their own emergency response teams to address disasters, calamities and other emergencies through the Barangay Emergency Response Program (BERP).

PSFI, tapping funds from PSPC and MOGP, partnered with the Philippine Red Cross and the National Disaster Coordinating Council to help each community draw up its emergency response plan and to equip its team members with the necessary skills.

MFI followed through in 2007 by forming NESTs (Neighborhood Emergency Services Team), which is recognized as an affiliate program of the City Disaster Management Council of Batangas.

Fire safety

Not content with working with local government units, Shell decided to take its Fire Safety Program a step further by going deeper into the community and into schools.

In March 2012, PSPC and PSFI conducted the very first Junior Fire Marshal Camp in partnership with the BFP, Department of Education (DepEd) and Batangas City.

The two-day training includes fun activities that enabled 234 students from public schools located in Shell’s fence-line barangays Tabangao, Ambulong, Libjo, San Isidro and Malitam to learn about the dangers of fire, its prevention, and the simple ways to suppress fires through games and simulation exercises.

Vicente Tomazar, head of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (RDRRMC) 4A, thanked Shell for coming up with projects that promote safety, particularly those that involve the youth. Giving kids the skills to identify hazards and potential dangers help prevent accidents to happen and in the event of a disaster or an emergency such skills can spell the difference between life and death, he says.

Interest in the program has been fueled by the junior fire marshals’ echo seminars in their respective schools and their participation in the Junior Fire Marshal Olympics in December 2012.

Thus, Shell expanded the next batch of students to include High School students from the Tabangao National High School and Batangas National High School during the second run last April. Other changes were the inclusion of the new guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the Basic First Aid module and additional courses for the high school participants like Basic Electrical Connections, Basic Fire Prevention and Response, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) safety and fire extinguisher, and Basic Search and Rescue.

Road safety

Shell’s safety advocacy, however, is not limited to fire prevention. Since 2008, the energy has been holding the annual Road Safety Camp in partnership with the Batangas City Mayor’s Office, Transportation Development and Regulatory Office (TDRO), Land Transportation Office (LTO), Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) and the city chapters of BFP, Public Information Office (PIO) and Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP).

Close to 17,000 elementary and high school students and teachers from selected public and private schools in Batangas City have since benefited from the one-day camp aimed at increasing awareness and shaping the values of children on traffic regulations, road safety conduct, and road courtesy at an early age.

Maria Alda of Tabangao National High School thanked Shell “for continuing to offer meaningful programs that benefit students as well as teachers.” As one of the teacher-mentors, she works with the Junior Road Safety mentors in echoing lessons learned in camp, conducting Road Safety simulated exercises and integrating Road Safety modules into classroom learning.

It helps that there are visible road safety reminders like the Road Safety Wall strategically located inside 11 campuses in Batangas City.  The Road Safety Wall shows the different international road signs that are visible in the city and their meaning plus tips on how to safely cross the street.

The children also have access to the Road Safety Comics, which was launched last July 2013.  The storyline for the comics is based on the modules and lessons regarding road courtesy, traffic regulations, and safety conduct presented during the Road Safety Camp last May.

Axel Mel Boongaling, a 10-year-old Grade 5 student of BSU, said learning is fun via the comics, which he can always check for reminders on how to be street-smart.

Safety within

While fire and road safety programs allow Shell to reach out and make itself relevant to communities, the best defense is still within.

Shell commits to a high standard of personal, road and process safety, and ensures that these are followed not only by its employees, but also by its contractors.

In 2007, Shell pledged to attain Goal Zero or to operate with zero fatalities and no significant incidents.  Thus, Shell is committed to making itself the first and last line of defense for any accidents or safety incidents. To date, Goal Zero has fast become a way of life in Shell. It is a core value considered sacred by all.

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