A Unique Idea for Oil Industry Training Seminars

When you have three days of lectures for the Oil industry (OHS and offshore drilling techniques), how can you engage men and women who probably don’t want to be there?

How can you revisit tedious safety rules, so that they are heard and remembered?

Answer: With cartoon posters.

The Seminar’s Graphic Capture Process

I joined this workshop as a Graphic Capture artist and, working from the back of the room, provided humorous posters which captured key points.  These were gradually posted around the room as the days progressed.  Blackline drawings with orange highlights, on A3 card.  I attached them to the walls every hour or so.  At breaks, attendees would study the posters, sometimes photographing them.
The three-day workshop was held four times over six weeks.  At beginning of second workshop, I pinned up the best 15 posters from previous three-day sessions.  This created an instant gallery from the moment we began.

process edit

Oil Platform Personalities and Information

Some of the posters were for humour only, and I also made an effort to include attendees in the images.  I interviewed offshore workers during coffee breaks and lunchtimes, in order to draw up job descriptions.  Sometimes I would be approached – with a suggestion or a request for a certain poster to be done.  The attendees were enjoying this.
During lunches and evening meals, I was talking, listening and digging for more information and angles to use the next day.  As the weeks progressed, the accumulating posters ranged over the scope of operations, and the diversity of job descriptions and characters working on this upcoming drilling operation.

derrickman & mechanical downhole cutters

Including Everyone – External Contractors

Along with key oil platform personnel, dozens of outside contractors from several companies also attended the lectures – including staff from the international Swire shipping group.  Below is an illustrated summary of their vessels’ duties when attending the oil platform.  I was gathering information that many other workers may not have known.
One aim of the training course was to create a bond between oil platform’s crew and the 80-odd outside contractors.  I mixed with as many attendees as possible in the time I had, and drew out their job roles and personalities.  Having this spectrum of info up on the walls was sure to help meld the entire workforce into a unified working relationship.

Swire Offshore Supply Vessel

Gallery of Posters – OHS, Drilling Techniques and Job Descriptions

After the four groups had passed through the training course, I had been drawing for 12 days in total.  The result was about 100 posters.  I rejected about 15, but the rest were up there on three walls.   It was a sea of OHS safety messages; explicit drilling notes; and caricatures.  All the lecturing, discussion and problem-solving they did … had not disappeared into thin air.  It was recorded – in a fun and visual way – and now surrounding the instructors and and attendees.

oil platform safety poster

Creating the Oil-Drilling Campaign’s Booklet

When the courses were over, I pitched the idea that I produce a cartoon booklet – and print about 200 copies.  It got the green-light.  I did extra work back at the office – creating covers, index, page design and a map.  I wanted to make a collectable, in-the-hand book of pride.  Something those men and women might take home to their friends or families.
In this way, perhaps we would have safety and training messages traveling further than the lecture room’s exit door.  Staying in workers’ memories.

Ensco 109 book cover

Drillers, Dogmen, mudmen, Derrickmen and Cranies – Workplace Pride

Most people don’t know what happens on oil platforms.  It’s tough, dangerous and the days are long.  I sensed the pride of these workers too, and I targeted this factor in the posters and booklet.
I designed a totem pole logo for the group of men who fly in from Mt Taranaki, NZ.  The course managers also requested I design an emblem that encapsulated the essence of their training, and the ethics of their OHS initiatives.

Fly in-Fly out Taranaki oil workers logos

Perth Offices and Offshore Feedback

It all worked really well.  The Toll contractors loved a poster I did of their harbour-based operations, and requested a large colour version for their Dampier office.  We created this and mailed it up, free of charge.

Toll supply operations Dampier wharf

The booklets were keenly studied at the drilling HQ in Perth, and a bunch were sent out to the Ensco 109 oil platform at end of 2012.  Eighteen months later, I heard a recent anecdote that the booklet is still being keenly looked over by crews on the platform.  (The saying goes that these guys usually read only two things: Outgoing Helicopter Manifest and the graffiti).

It was a great experience for me, and the booklet truly locked it in.