Culture, relationships drive 30 years of safe operations

On Dec. 8, 2016, the team at the Conway Fractionator in Kansas had a tremendous achievement to celebrate: 30 years without a work-related lost time injury or accident.

Rob Burton, supervisor of Operations at the Fractionator, agreed there is a lot of pride associated with the milestone.

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The team at the Conway Fractionator stands proud in celebration of 30 years without a work-related lost time injury or accident.

“I’m very proud of the operations and maintenance technicians who not only keep the Fractionator running safely and reliably, but keep themselves and each other safe day after day,” Rob says.

According to safeopedia, “a lost time injury occurs when an employee is injured while carrying out a work-related task for the employer, and is then unable for perform the regular duties for a complete shift or period of time after the incident.”

Randy Heinrichs, manager of Operations for the Conway area, believes this safety streak can be attributed to several things, primarily peer-to-peer relationships that exist at the Fractionator, as well as a strong culture of accountability.

“The more experienced employees spend a lot of time mentoring the less experienced employees and there’s a strong culture of accountability to one another at the Frac,” Randy says.

The average tenure at the Fractionator is 19.4 years. The team consists of a supervisor, nine operations technicians, four maintenance technicians, as well as Safety & Environment staff. Three employees have more than 30 years of service.

“I think we benefit from very low employee turnover,” Randy says. “I believe our employees maintain a healthy sense of vulnerability in everything we do. Even though the process is the same or similar each day, we don’t take anything for granted. If something seems out of the ordinary, we investigate.”

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The Conway Fractionator separates a mixture of natural gas liquids into its five components: ethane/propane mix, propane, isobutane, normal butane and natural gasoline.

To ensure the team is on the same page, operating procedures are reviewed and upgraded to ensure they are accurate and easily understood. The team also spends a lot of time working through Process Hazard Analyses or PHAs.

“As you can see from the team at Conway’s Frac, this kind of milestone is possible,” Randy says. “Driving toward continuous improvement with our Process Safety culture and Process Safety objectives is front and center.”

The Conway Fractionator receives a mixture of natural gas liquids from Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico and Wyoming. The Fractionator separates this mixture into its five components by thermal distillation, including ethane/propane mix, propane, isobutane, normal butane and natural gasoline. These products are either stored in an underground cavern or moved to pipelines or rail cars to reach their markets.

The Conway Fractionator is jointly owned by Williams Partners, Phillips66 and ONEOK and operated by Williams employees.

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