Every day, more than 800 BP employees and hundreds of contractors badge into the Cherry Point Refinery in Blaine, Washington, with a focus on doing their job safely. For Cherry Point workers, safety is not simply one priority among others — it’s their most important commitment, a commitment that defines the culture and identity of the entire refinery.
“The employees and contractors at Cherry Point have a deep personal commitment to safety,” says Refinery Manager Bob Allendorfer. “It is a thousand people doing a thousand things right every day.”
One of the annual highlights at Cherry Point is the employee-hosted Safety Fair, which brings together employees, contractors and vendors to discuss ways of making the refinery even safer.
This year, the Cherry Point Safety Fair welcomed BP America Chairman and President John Mingé, who congratulated employees on achieving more than 21.5 million work hours without a day away from work. He noted that the achievement says a lot about the refinery’s safety culture.
Citing Cherry Point’s push for zero safety incidents, Mingé said: “I can see that you believe that zero is possible and that you continue to work to achieve this goal.”
He also reiterated that every single BP employee has both the power and the obligation to stop a job — any job — if something seems unsafe. This obligation represents a cornerstone of BP’s broader safety culture, Mingé said.
When asked what drives safety at the refinery, the chair of the employee-led Cherry Point Safety Committee, Joel Johnson, said: “There are many examples of our One Team approach and our commitment to safety, which is shared by all work groups at the refinery. The key is our strong speak-up culture. It is the catalyst that inspires people to take ownership, not only for their personal safety, but also for the safety of others.”
Indeed, Cherry Point recognizes that a strong speak-up culture creates a strong safety reporting culture — because it requires people to report all incidents, and it encourages them to identify potential risks.
During his trip to Whatcom County (where the Cherry Point Refinery is located), Mingé also met with members of the Whatcom Business Alliance, with the president of Western Washington University, and with the Whatcom County executive.
He used these visits to underscore Cherry Point’s enormous contributions to the regional economy and local community organizations.
BP supports more than 7,700 jobs in Washington state as a whole, and in 2016 Cherry Point employees donated more than 4,500 volunteer hours to the Boys & Girls Clubs, the Whatcom Literacy Council, the American Red Cross and other community groups. In addition, Cherry Point has long been the largest contributor to the Whatcom County United Way, with nearly $5 million donated since 2004.
The refinery also invests in the next generation of energy and technology workers by sponsoring local schools and education initiatives, ranging from Bellingham Technical College to the Blaine High School Technology Student Association.