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How Oil & Gas Companies Are Ensuring Workforce Safety During COVID-19

Michelle Gardner, Appian
April 6, 2021

Over a few short months in 2020, COVID-19 accelerated what so many CEOs and CTOs have struggled to do for the past decade: It forced organizations to be agile and adjust quickly to change. Oil and gas companies in particular had to react quickly to get back to onsite work while protecting their workers’ safety. 

Russell Stewart, host of the Oil and Gas HSE Podcast, recently sat down with some experts from Appian who specialize in our Workforce Safety solution and in the oil and gas industry. They discussed the unique challenges COVID-19 has presented to oil and gas companies and how Appian Workforce Safety helps safeguard employees as they get back to the workplace. 

Read on for highlights from the interview, and listen to the whole recording here


Russell Stewart, Host: Was this app an enhancement to something that you've had for a long time?

Sasha Cassidy, Appian: No, Workforce Safety was built on top of the Appian platform, which is our low-code platform for applications. We realized that there was a need for our own organization, Appian, to be able to monitor employees and make sure HR could check in on employees. Then we realized that there was definitely a broader need for organizations to keep a closer tab on their employees during the pandemic. 

So we built Appian Workforce Safety...which offers a number of different facets for return to work. It starts with a health survey where organizations can configure a survey of some basic questions that they may want to ask their employees upon return to work, such as: Have you had contact with anyone who's had COVID-19 recently? How are you feeling today? Are you exhibiting any symptoms? The application also has contact tracing, reporting, incident management, COVID-19 isolation, and symptom monitoring. It also tracks vaccination status for an organization…That information is available within each organization's individual application. It's all stored on Appian's HIPAA-compliant cloud. 


RS: When you talk about incident management, is that not just in the context of COVID-19, but also if there's an accident, an event at the plant or out on the rig, or something like that?

SC: Absolutely. Right now, the application is really geared towards any incidents that occur with COVID-19...However, many of our customers are considering using the incident management infrastructure that's built within the application to handle wider use cases. Like you mentioned, an incident on site at a facility, someone's injured or there's a piece of machinery that  isn't working anymore. We're seeing that people who are adopting and using Appian Workforce Safety now are thinking more broadly about how the application will continue to be applicable beyond the pandemic.


RS: Seth, can we delve into a case history that specifically is related to oil and gas?

Seth Pfaltzgraff, Appian: Yes, I've been working directly with an oil and gas company at Salt Lake City, Utah, called Sinclair Oil. Sinclair leverages Appian Workforce Safety and has been doing so since the first month or two [of the pandemic].

Since then, they've rolled it out to anywhere between 650 to 700 employees. Those individuals are performing a daily self-symptom check-in on their mobile applications. Based on those responses and the associated Sinclair requirements, those individuals are then presented with a thumbs up or a thumbs down in terms of whether they're okay to jump into the refinery and the facilities for that given day.


RS: Another issue that has reared its ugly head as a result of COVID is the issue of not only your employees, but what about contractors coming into the facility?

SP: Yeah, you hit the nail on the head. Sinclair has a large number of contractors that also work on site. The solution is configurable and not only includes the specific employees that have a Sinclair Oil email address, but their contractors as well, making sure that those individuals are also doing their daily self-symptom check-in.

Sinclair and some other customers are now integrating Workforce Safety into the facility badging software. That's allowing us to be a little bit more proactive in terms of enforcement...Once you fill out your daily self-symptom check-in, that will trigger the authorization that your badge is now active to enter a facility. It provides more proactive enforcement for an organization to manage their employees while also giving a nudge, that even if this is something that only takes a few seconds every morning, we do need everybody to fill out how they're feeling for that day.


RS: And you say you make it easy to put all this together?

SC: Yes, the solution is fully built and ready to use. Within Workforce Safety, we have over a hundred configuration options so [customers] can go in and start tweaking to their organization's needs. All of the configuration is done within the front end of the application, very similar to setting up your iPhone. From the questions that you're asking your employees, to the branding of the application, to the messaging you're sending out, or if you want to send out any documents or links—all of that is easy to configure with zero coding experience.

RS: You just hit the nail right there on the head: zero coding experience. Because I'm technologically challenged, and there’s a lot of guys like me who are in management who have the same problem. You have to make it easy. 


RS: We're going to get through this pandemic eventually. Is the need for this app going to go away then?

SP: For Sinclair, the ways in which they're looking at this is both current state, which is managing the COVID-19 pandemic, but also looking at future state. As one example, Sinclair is looking at when we get back into seasonal flu—leveraging the flexibility and the configurability of Appian to not only manage COVID-19, but also when employees are out sick with the flu, or really any other ailments. 

The second example is also leveraging it from a more broad emergency response management solution. [Think of] the winters in Wyoming, especially the wind and the snow and the ice on the road, not unlike what happened in Texas recently. This idea of employees traveling to the refineries and maybe having a car accident, or the car skids off the road. [Sinclair is thinking of] having employees check in leveraging Workforce Safety in more broad emergency management issues that they may come across.

To your point, eventually we will get to the end of this pandemic, whether it’s a month from now or six months from now or whenever. The flexibility of Appian is the inherent value proposition of what we provide. 


Appian Workforce Safety is the only solution with a unified, automated, and flexible approach for safely returning to onsite work. Learn why Volkswagen Group of America, Garmin, Pandora, and Univision trust Workforce Safety to safeguard their employees at