Practitioner Spotlight--Don Riggs

Practitioner Spotlight--Don Riggs

October 1st, 2018


Don Riggs


Lakewood, Denver CO

Practice Area:

Industrial Safety

Area(s) of expertise:

EHS in the oil and gas sector, primarily upstream and midstream. But I’ve also done some work on downstream, offshore and on-shore.

About Me in 140 Characters:

I’m originally from Odessa Texas, which is in west Texas, and in high school, I moved to Houston Texas. I went to Texas A&M and became an Aggie, which I’m very proud of. Later, I worked at Amoco in southeast Louisiana, did some consulting after that, and for the last 25 years, I’ve been in the corporate world of oil and gas directors. I have four children, I’m recently married, and I live near a golf course.

Favorite Thing about Being an Industrial Safety Practitioner:

I enjoy it because of the variety of projects that I get to be a part of. I had my own consulting company in the past—it was just me with no support and it was pretty stressful. Here at Antea Group, we have excellent team support and I really enjoy that. I like being able to put teams together, work on proposals with the team, and work in a project management capacity. I also enjoy mentoring—we have a lot of young people that are full of energy and inquisitive about oil and gas, and they ask me lot of questions.

What is the most interesting project you’ve ever worked on?

It has to be the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. I lived on the water for primarily for 4-5 months on a work barge that housed 600 people working on the spill. It was so big that it had a crane that could lift small ships onto the deck for repair. We were surrounded by humpback whales, bald eagles, and killer whales. We learned a lot from that oil spill and much of that knowledge has been applied to the recent oil spill in the Gulf. It was a part of the world I’d never seen, and it was beautiful. I met a lot of great people up there in Alaska and learned a lot too, on the environmental side.

What is a key ingredient for success as an industrial safety practitioner?

Having in-depth knowledge of the applicable regulations and an understanding of management systems. It helps if you get to do audits—when you go in and audit facilities, you are covering all applicable regulations and getting a better understanding of safety in that facility, as well as learning about specific procedures (like lock out tag out). It is important that you have a managerial or director background, are a good communicator, efficient with your time, and have an advanced experience level.

What surprises people about your job?

There is a lot of misinformation about oil and gas—that we are destroying the environment or other harmful things. When I tell people what I do they are surprised at how heavily regulated the industry truly is and that we use every type of resource to make sure we are in compliance.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A professional basketball player. At one point in my life, I had long curly blonde hair, and I played a lot of basketball—for a period of time people thought I was Larry Bird. But I can’t play basketball anymore. I used to be a 7-foot high jumper, but now I can’t jump over a coffee table.

If you had one month off, where would you go or what would you do?

Travel around the world.

Is there something unique that people might not know about you? (hobbies, hidden talents, etc.)

I live by a golf course and continue to play golf and improve, even at my age. I enjoy cycling, hiking, skiing—less skiing because I’ve been consulting a lot recently, but I still like it.

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