Protecting workers in Ghana’s downstream petroleum environment


Edward Debrah is Proactively’s partner in West Africa.  Edward has been using Proactively for a few years and is a firm believer in the benefits it can bring to organisations.  He sees digitisation as the future, able to play a big role in improving H&S standards.

Edward was interviewed live on the Asaase Radio station Energy 101.  Asaase Radio, ‘The voice of Our Land’ broadcasts from Accra, Ghana.  

Edward talks about the importance of health and safety within the downstream oil and gas sector.  Click here to hear the recording.  The quality isn’t great, so you can also read the notes I made below. 


The presenter, Emmanuel Wiafe starts by asking “Why is H&S important?”.  Edward gives 3 reasons:

  • Moral – it is the right thing to do. If one of your employees has a serious accident, thoughts about it will stay with you for the rest of your life.
  • Financial – The pareto principle tells us that 80% of results or profits are generated from only 20% of the inputs or efforts. This applies to safety.  Investment in H&S gives good value.  Accidents can be very expensive, and it is not really possible to quantify the cost of a life.
  • Legal – The International Labour Organisation (ILO) was set up for employers to keep people safe at work and we follow these principles.

Next Emmanuel asks  “What are the main hazards that workers in the downstream sector are confronted with on a daily basis?”

Edward tells us that transport of fuel is the biggest cause of accidents, often due to negligence such as workers speeding or being tired.  In fuel stations there are also high risks from burglary and fuel spillage.  People used to attack fuel stations thinking there was lots of money. Now stations operate cash limits, so the burglar gets nothing.

Fire is also a significant risk and there have been many serious incidents in Ghana.  Three things are needed to cause a fire: fuel, heat and ignition source.  We can find all these at a fuel station.  All it takes is a spark….  However, if you eliminate any of these, there will be no fire.  This is why it is so important to have the right controls in place to manage H&S risks well.

Sometimes you find that people at the pump do not even know how a fire extinguisher works.  Training of staff is very important. It needs to be done right, so people have the confidence to put it into practice if something happens. 

Most of the Oil Marketing Companies (OMC) are doing well.  It takes commitment from the management to build a good safety culture and to provide the necessary resources.

Good H&S is a pre-requisite for the licence to operate given by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA).  NPA were founded in 2005 and have performed well in regulating the sector.  Their presence is felt throughout our country.   Once they have been granted the licence, it is the responsibility of the OMC to comply with the conditions.  NPA cannot be there to supervise every day.  Unfortunately, sometimes companies are not meeting their full requirements.  The sector, guided by the Association of Oil Marketing Companies (AOMC), is working hard to address this.

Emanuel asks: “How are OMC complying with the regulations?”  Edward tells us that the sector has different players.  The multinationals are used to following high standards.  They often have certifications such as ISO.  Some regional companies are also doing very well. However, there are examples of companies who put money over all else and do not take the necessary steps to keep people safe.

ED Consults supports companies in putting the steps in place to get the Operating Licence, and run safely within the required conditions.  They also provide training, so your staff will know how to work safely.

On 28th April the ILO celebrates the World Day for Safety and Health.   This is a campaign to encourage nations to anticipate, prepare and respond to crises by investing now in resilient Occupational Safety and Health Systems.  We need to be able to respond to the unexpected.  No-one expected Covid…then one day it was in China…and then it was in Ghana.  The loss of lives and jobs has been huge.  Some organisations were better able to face the challenges than others and this has given them an advantage. 

We need to think carefully about how to respond, not only to Covid 19, but to other challenges that we may face in the future.  How do we prepare?  Forward thinking organisations are revisiting their plans.  People need to see H&S not as ‘spending money’ but as ‘protecting people’ and building a safer, healthier and more prosperous future.

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