Turning tragedy into triumph


PREVENTION is better than cure, as the saying goes.

A safe work environment is paramount for a company to thrive, no matter the size of your business.

Logically, a safe and healthy work environment not only protects employees from injury and illness, it can also lower related costs, reduce absenteeism and turnover, increase productivity and quality, and raise employee morale.

In other words, safety is good for business – besides the obvious fact that protecting workers is the right thing to do.

One enterprise looking to reimagine a safer working environment for employees across different industries is Viva Odyssey.

Viva Odyssey provides safety technology and integration systems for drilling rigs and oil and gas operations.

The company’s founder and chief executive officer Jerry Abraham Doss notes that as a tech-system solutions provider to prevent accidents and near misses for their clients, they also have a crack team of international consultants who are determined to provide cost effective safety, training and risk solutions globally.

But his journey, and by extension Viva Odyssey’s story, began much earlier.

With Doss at the helm, one of Viva Odyssey’s greatest strengths is having inside knowledge in providing innovative tech solutions that help monitor, transmit and receive reports, and also develop new-age personnel safety systems for the oil and gas industry.With Doss at the helm, one of Viva Odyssey’s greatest strengths is having inside knowledge in providing innovative tech solutions that help monitor, transmit and receive reports, and also develop new-age personnel safety systems for the oil and gas industry.

Preventing tragedies

For Doss, the company was borne out of the loss of a life – after losing a family friend.

He witnessed how his friend’s family fell apart after they lost their father figure.

“Before starting Viva Odyssey, I was an accountant,” Doss recounted.

“But after watching the pop culture film Armageddon, I wanted to be a driller just like Bruce Willis was in the film because accounting was not my calling.

“I did end up becoming a driller (oil and gas) with a buddy of mine who was familiar with the offshore industry and relevant safety systems.

“I was just starting out as a driller when he died from a work-related accident right beside me.

“It happened close to Christmas and the family was devastated. His wife fell into depression and was desperately looking for someone who could help take care of the family while the kids ended up dealing with social issues,” he continued.

The worst part of this tragedy was that it was something preventable.

“There were signs leading up to the moment of his death,” Doss added.

Doss characterises starting Viva Odyssey as “seeking a desperate solution to accidents like these”.

“Hence, my journey as a driller ended and instead, I wanted to look after lives. So I dove into the safety line,” Doss said.

It was in this line of work that Doss noticed a problem with how safety systems operated and how slowly information reached the safety officers on site. That affected response time during emergencies and accidents.

“I started Viva Odyssey to provide safety solutions, starting with the oil and gas industry through a web-based application,” he added.

With help from Maxis and their team of technical experts, Viva Odyssey hopes to accelerate the building of a live-reporting and danger alert system and introduce this important technology to the oil and gas industry.

Bridging the digital disconnect

Imagine an offshore oil rig where workers could be observing unsafe acts and conditions and report those conditions on a card to be given to a safety officer.

Unfortunately, any one safety officer could receive hundreds of reports in a given day, taking up to half a day to properly compile all the reports before any action is taken.

But accidents wait for no one.

“As recently as 20 years ago, offshore oil rigs used to have a ban on handphones on the rig itself,” explained Doss.

With the advancement of mobile technology in terms of how safe they intrinsically are, the ban was eventually lifted.

“This opened the floodgates of technology development and innovation for safety systems in oil and gas,” Doss added.

Nowadays, when a person informs the relevant authorities on any unsafe conditions, that transmission can be quicker, allowing the latter to almost immediately address the issue. Saving time saves lives in this case.

Selvakumar noted that occupational health and safety has made strides in terms of tech in the last decade.Selvakumar noted that occupational health and safety has made strides in terms of tech in the last decade.

“The emergence of digital technology has evolved the workplace by leaps and bounds, with health and safety continuing to be of utmost importance,” noted Maxis enterprise products head Selvakumar Rajasekaran.

“Through our own experience of using the best of technologies to ensure a safe working environment, Maxis is proud to work with Viva Odyssey to bring our digital innovations to the broader oil and gas industry, and look forward to working together to help accelerate their vision,” he said

A livelihood for the destitute

As a recipient of the second round of Maxis Awards, Viva Odyssey is a social enterprise that also enables a livelihood for those who do not meet regular employment standards.

Viva Odyssey’s core services include job placements, recruitment, skilled labour supply and skill building training.

This initiative is also what led to the birth of The Starfish Project which is the social impact initiative and corporate social responsibility (CSR) effort to give back to local communities.

“We hire those from a special crowd to empower them with transferable skills and livelihood activities. They are the ones currently cleaning up our data for clients too.

“As long as they can read, they can contribute,” said Doss, adding that literacy is the key skill Viva Odyssey looks for when hiring.“As long as they can read, they can contribute,” said Doss, adding that literacy is the key skill Viva Odyssey looks for when hiring.

“This effort was specifically on job placement for a special crowd such as ex-addicts, at-risk youth, ex-offenders, the homeless, urban poor, and even marginalised communities,” said Doss.

Through these CSR efforts, Viva Odyssey cemented itself as a leading social enterprise with a social agenda at heart. It also advocates on behalf of marginalised communities by educating underprivileged children via the Viva Starfish Majestic Minds Academy.

There are four schools catering to refugee children, poverty-stricken squatter areas, rural areas and villages.

Read more about the Maxis Awards and how it empowers local heroes here.

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