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SPE Holds First HSE Conference in Latin America

Source: 18 June 2013

SPE is holding the first Latin American conference on HSE 26–27 June in Lima, Peru. The SPE Latin American and Caribbean Health, Safety, Social Responsibility, and Environmental Conference will bring together experts from two geographic locations to share best practices, technological advances, and new ideas for HSE.

Experts from Latin America and the Caribbean will conduct more than 50 technical and poster presentations that showcase the latest technological advances and innovative applications in HSE. The opening plenary session, “How to Address and Obtain a License To Operate in Sensitive Areas,” features an in‐depth discussion on social and safety risks, control and transportation of hazardous materials, wastewater treatment, and more.

The second day’s plenary session, “Measures and Improvements After Industry Accidents,” addresses the lessons learned from previous accidents and the latest measures and improvements in managing the prevention and response of oil spills.

“This conference is important to the Latin American and Caribbean regions,” said Carlos Arturo Rosas Mota, conference program committee chairman and HSE manager for Schlumberger Peru. “It is a great opportunity to share best practices and case histories and to learn from each other’s experience. Doing so will help us in our efforts to improve HSE performance for the betterment of the entire industry and all its stakeholders.”

Technical sessions, which will have simultaneous translation in English and Spanish, fall into five categories.

  • Environment: Topics include “Designing an Optimal Offshore Pipeline Route To Minimize Impacts on Coastal and Marine Biodiversity,” “The New Structure for International Oil Spill and Preparedness & Response,” and “The Challenges for the Treatment of Drilling Fluid Wastes Generated by E&P Industry in Brazil.”
  • HSE Management: Topics include “The Human Chain—A Different Approach to Behavior Safety Program Through the Use of Social Marketing Concepts,” “Assessing Risks and Regulating Safety Standards in the Oil and Gas Industry: The Peruvian Experience,” and “Building Strong Stakeholder Relations and Minimizing Operational Risks in the Oil and Gas Industry Through Market‐Based Certification.”
  • Social Responsibility: Topics include “The Social Side of Unconventional Oil and Gas in Latin America,” “Innovative Ways to Inspire New Employees to Embrace an HSE Culture,” and “Social Responsibility: A Comparative Study of Oil Majors—Who is the Best?”
  • Safety: Topics include “Integrity Management System Based on Risk Analysis: A Tool to Prevent Failures on Pipelines Which Cross Amazonian Jungles and the Andes,” and “A Study of Rollover Occupant Injury Mitigation Using Dynamic Testing To Evaluate Alternative Protection Systems.”
  • Health: Topics include “Improving the Health of the Workforce May Improve Work Performance,” “Cardiovascular Risk Impact in the Oil Industry,” and “Obesity in the Oil and Gas Industry Population.”

The conference includes an exhibition that will showcase some of the latest developments and trends in HSE.

Exposure to Silica Endangers Hydraulic Fracturing Workers

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | 5 June 2013

Hydraulic fracturing sand transfer.

To date, most of the attention on the safety and health implications of hydraulic fracturing has been related to impacts on the environment, primarily the potential for groundwater contamination by hydraulic fracturing fluids. Although worker safety hazards in the oil and gas extraction industry are well known, there is very little data regarding occupational health hazards during hydraulic fracturing operations; for example, whether workers are exposed to toxic chemicals at hazardous concentrations. To investigate potential worker health hazards in this rapidly expanding industry and address the existing lack of information on occupational dust and chemical exposures associated with hydraulic fracturing, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) initiated the NIOSH Field Effort to Assess Chemical Exposures in Oil and Gas Extraction Workers. Initial hazard assessments identified exposure to crystalline silica during hydraulic fracturing as the most significant known health hazard to workers, and this has been the focus of the NIOSH study to date.

Sand refill truck and dust release from thief hatches on the top of the sand mover.

Crystalline silica, in the form of sand, plays a major role in the hydraulic fracturing process. Each stage of the operation typically involves hundreds of thousands of pounds of sand. The sand is used as a proppant to hold open the fissures created by hydraulic fracturing and allow the gas to flow out of the shale into the well. Moving, transporting, and refilling thousands of pounds of sand onto and through sand movers, along transfer belts, and into blenders generates considerable dust, including respirable crystalline silica, to which workers can be exposed.

Norway Authority Strives To Boost HSE Culture

Source: Petroleum Safety Authority | 23 May 2013

Norway’s petroleum regulations specify that enterprises must have a sound health, safety, and environmental (HSE) culture. The aim is to ensure a further improvement in HSE standards. However, the regulations do not specifically define what the concept of an HSE culture entails.

Approaches to understanding the concept are provided in a brochure put together by the Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway, together with suggestions on how such a culture can be created.

Requirements for a sound HSE culture are that

  • efforts to improve health, safety, and the environment are not viewed in isolation from each other
  • a good balance is maintained between the independent responsibility of each person in HSE work and the responsibility of the enterprise to provide good working conditions

The brochure does not provide any hard-and-fast rules but is intended to assist the industry in improving its HSE culture. Important considerations include

  • taking an integrated view of different HSE measures
  • maintaining a systematic and critical focus on one’s own HSE activities
  • paying greater attention to the “H” and “E” components
  • working continuously to improve the level of HSE and not relying simply on spasmodic efforts

Column: Is There Such a Thing as Oilfield Ergonomics?

Source: Balance Biomechanics | 20 May 2013

A column by Balance Biomechanics takes a look at the apparent incompatibility of ergonomics with the oil field.

“Oilfield ergonomics; these two words immediately contradict in my brain. I’ve been on an oil patch and a frac pad and neither is the poster child for ergonomics. The goal of ergonomics is to design a workstation or environment around an employee to decrease the risk of soft tissue injury. This is a valiant effort and quite successful in many industries with controlled environments. However, in many oilfield situations and uncontrolled environments, perfect ergonomics just isn’t possible. Even when it comes to back safety and proper lifting, most of the time, perfect lifts just aren’t possible.”

Column: Industrial Athlete’s Guide to Eating Healthy at Work

Source: Balance Biomechanics | 20 May 2013

A column by Balance Biomechanics takes a look at how healthy eating can boost industry workers.

“Industry workers like roughnecks, frac hands, and construction workers are what I call industrial athletes. Just like professional athletes, these folks need their body to function in order to get paid, they need to focus and keep their head in the game in order not to get themselves (or their crew) seriously injured. These industrial athletes are most often working out in the elements and have long shifts day and night. Unfortunately, the nutrition habits of many that come through my classes leave plenty to be desired.

“The good news is that most of these hard-working men and women are interested in eating healthier and a few simple tips go a long way.”


ExxonMobil Grants Go Toward Fighting Malaria

Source: ExxonMobil | 24 April 2013

On the eve of World Malaria Day, 25 April, ExxonMobil announced its next round of ExxonMobil Foundation grants to organizations working  to combat the disease.

Since 2000, ExxonMobil has provided more than $110 million in funding and support, reaching 83 million people. USD 10 million in grants have been announced for 2013.laria

ExxonMobil-supported programs have distributed 13.1 million bed nets, 1.7 million top-line malaria treatments and 942,000 rapid diagnostic tests over the past 13 years

The new grants support the lifesaving malaria programs of leading global organizations, including Malaria No More, Africare, the United Nations Foundation, USAID, Jhpiego, Population Services International, UNICEF, and the Medicines for Malaria Venture. ExxonMobil is also supporting a number of these organizations’ World Malaria Day events across Africa, including Malaria No More’s World Malaria Day Concert and Ceremony in Cameroon and Grassroot Soccer’s World Malaria Day soccer tournaments in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Equatorial Guinea, among others.

“Through our longstanding work in Africa, ExxonMobil has witnessed firsthand the devastating health and economic impacts of malaria,” said Suzanne McCarron, president of the ExxonMobil Foundation. “We are building on our efforts over the past 13 years to support innovative programs to stop the spread of this preventable disease and save lives.”



Increased Regulations Boost Desire for HSE Professsionals

Source: Rigzone | 23 April 2013

Efforts to recruit health, safety, and environment workers such as inspectors has increased after the number of regulations surrounding oil and gas activity in the Gulf of Mexico grew after the Macondo oil spill, said Loretta Cross, managing partner of Grant Thornton’s energy practice.

The increased safety and environmental regulations call for more workers to inspect offshore platforms and oil and gas pipelines. New regulations requiring the heads of oil and gas exploration and production companies to certify their operations are compliant with regulations prescribed by the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement have increased the need for more processes to inspect and monitor equipment and operations and to document these efforts and the number of workers for these activities.

Report Claims Lack of Experienced Workers Jeopardizes Safety

Source: OilVoice

Warnings that oil industry safety standards are being jeopardized by a shortage of experienced staff are supported by a report published 11 March. 32% of respondents to a joint report from OilCareers.com and Air Energi highlighted the ongoing skills shortage as the biggest threat to the sector. The lack of skilled trainers was identified as a major training issue by more than 20%. The report confirms that heightened safety concerns due to economic instability combined with a continuing strong oil price and the ongoing skills shortage, particularly in the liquefied natural gas  and subsea sectors, will continue to push oil related salaries upward.

3D Body Scanner Program Aims To Increase Safety for Offshore Workers

Source: Robert Gordon University

Research Associate Robert Ledingham has been appointed to work on the size and shape study.

Groundbreaking research to measure offshore workers’ body size with 3D scanners to inform the future design of safety equipment, survival clothing, and space requirements on offshore installations has been launched in Aberdeen.

The research, which will generate an ongoing capability for measuring the size and shape of the offshore workforce, is the first of its kind in more than 25 years and is being led by researchers at Robert Gordon University’s Institute of Health and Welfare Research in collaboration with experts from Oil and Gas UK.

Poor Computer Use Endangers Employee Health

Source: Health & Safety Matters

Research from employee health analyst EnergiseYou found that employee health is being put at risk because of inadequate implementation of smart computer use within companies.

Out of the 2,000 employees questioned for the survey, only 30% said that their working environment was suitable, for example comfortable lighting levels were provided.

Of those polled, 37% said that they suffered from tension headaches or migraines and 66% said that they have tension or feel pain in their neck, back, and shoulders.

ExxonMobil Searches for Innovative Ways To Make Sure ‘Nobody Gets Hurt’

Source: ExxonMobil

In an emergency situation, ExxonMobil workers understand that every moment counts. That’s why when a nurse and a team of 12 employee volunteers encountered difficulties in transporting an injured person from the company’s Longford facility in Australia, they didn’t accept the status quo. Instead, they identified areas where the evacuation process could be improved – and made those changes happen.

That’s the spirit behind ExxonMobil’s commitment to safety. Locations across the globe are developing new and better ways to mitigate risks, improve safety, and live out the company’s commitment that “Nobody Gets Hurt.”