EHS Today | 19 June 2017

No Worker Left Behind: Protecting Lone Workers in the Oil and Gas Industry

With oil prices gradually rising in recent weeks, oil production sites that were shuttered during the industry downturn finally are gearing up again for operation, perhaps marking an end to an extended slump in the oil market. As oil companies react to these improving conditions, more remote workers will be driving hundreds of miles weekly on back roads in rural areas to work on compressor stations, pipelines, and pump jacks. It is a fact of life for thousands of workers in the oil and gas industry.

Credit: Honeywell Industrial Safety.

These workers also present a challenge for their employers. On the job, they face a host of occupational hazards such as slips and falls, electrocution, falling objects, cuts and burns, and toxic and flammable gas exposure, any of which could seriously injure or kill them. Because they work remotely, it is difficult for employers to monitor their safety and take appropriate action if necessary.

Cloud-based computing and wireless, mobile technology have created a new era of safety for lone workers, going beyond current safety standards. With today’s connected technology, safety managers now can receive a constant stream of real-time data on a lone worker’s exact location as well as their biophysical and atmospheric conditions, and can monitor their safety and initiate or assist with decisive or preemptive safety actions like never before, from anywhere in the world.

Being “out of sight” and even potentially “out of touch” places remote lone workers at risks beyond those faced by their work-based colleagues—even when remote workers are armed with added personal safety measures.

Read the full story here.

Houston Chronicle | 19 June 2017

New GE Startup Tests Drones for Pipeline, Gas Flare Inspections

General Electric has launched a subsidiary to develop and sell the use of flying, crawling, and swimming drones for inspections in the oil and gas industry, among others, the company announced.

A photo of of oil and gas piping taken by a GE drone. The blue color represents corrosion detection. Credit: GE, Avitas Systems.

The startup, Boston-based Avitas Systems, is already working with customers to test the drones on pipelines, gas flares, and holding tanks.

“Now I can send a drone, on demand, and look at the length of the pipeline,” said Kishore Sundararajan, chief technology officer at GE Oil and Gas. He helped start Avitas.

The oil and gas industry has regularly been upended by technology over the last decade. Breakthroughs in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing brought on the shale revolution. The 3-year-old crash in oil prices drove oil and gas companies to lay off workers and rely on newer technologies such as remote monitoring, electronic drill-bit steering, and hydraulic fracturing advances to increase production and lower costs.

Read the full story here.

Shanda Consult via Mondaq | 14 June 2017

Draeger Safety Looking To Expand Its Market in Iran Oil and Gas Industry

Draeger Safety is seeking to expand its market share in Iran’s petroleum industry.

According to Draeger’s regional manager for oil, gas, and chemical, Ian White, its business in Iran is to provide safety products, including protection equipment such as breathing apparatuses, respiratory protection, and face masks to protect people in potentially toxic and poisonous environments. Also, it produces detection equipment that will detect anything explosive in oil, gas, chemical, and petrochemical industries.

Draeger Safety has been developing advanced technical devices and solutions trusted by users all over the world. Its broad range of products, including safety and protection systems, respiratory protective equipment, air filters, detection technology, and warning systems are used in hospitals, for firefighting, for mining, in the oil and gas industry, and in the chemical industry.

In industrial spaces, detection and protection devices are essential part of safety systems. Draeger has combined both detection and protection products, to make sure people are safe before and after toxic gases detection.

Read the full story here.

Colorado Public Radio | 7 June 2017

New Study Looks at Frequency of Oil and Gas Explosions in Colorado

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper recently said the home explosion in Firestone, Colorado, that killed two people was a “freak accident.” But a new study by the Colorado School of Public Health indicates that accidents like this may not be so uncommon.

A home in Weld County, Colorado, with an oil drilling rig nearby. Credit: Grace Hood/CPR News.

“What I would tell people is read your deed carefully and be aware of what’s going on around you,” said John Adgate about the need for families moving into areas with oil and gas developments to do due diligence. “What happened in Firestone had to do with a flow line being cut and that, I don’t know the frequency of that happening. As the governor said, he considered it a freak accident. My message would be that accidents happen and we need to manage the risks as best we can.”

Adgate chairs the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the School of Public Health, located at the University of Colorado Anschutz School of Medicine. He was a coauthor of the study.

Published in the July issue of the journal Energy Research and Social Sciences, the report says there were at least 116 fires and explosions at oil and gas operations in the state in a 10-year period between 2006 and 2015. With about 53,000 active oil and gas wells in Colorado, that comes out to about 0.03 reported incidents over the course of the study. Adgate says, however, there are questions about the reporting that takes place.

Read the full story here.

BSEE | 1 June 2017

President Proposes USD 204.9 Million in Budget for BSEE

President Donald Trump proposed a USD 204.9 million Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). The budget ensures continued support of the offshore energy industry’s safe and responsible operations providing for secure and reliable energy production for America’s future. BSEE fosters safe and environmentally responsible energy production on the US Outer Continental Shelf through regulatory oversight of oil and gas operations.

The FY 2018 budget request is USD 204.9 million, a USD 600,000 increase above the FY 2017 level, and includes USD 112.0 million in current appropriations and USD 92.9 million in revenue from rental receipts, cost recoveries, and inspection fees.

“President Trump promised the American people he would cut wasteful spending and make the government work for the taxpayer again, and that’s exactly what this budget does,” said US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “Working carefully with the President, we identified areas where we could reduce spending and also areas for investment, such as addressing the maintenance backlog in our National Parks and increasing domestic energy production on federal lands. The budget also allows the department to return to the traditional principles of multiple-use management to include both responsible natural resource development and conservation of special places. Being from the west, I’ve seen how years of bloated bureaucracy and D.C.-centric policies hurt our rural communities. The president’s budget saves taxpayers by focusing program spending, shrinking bureaucracy, and empowering the front lines.”

Read the full story here.

EHS Journal | 24 May 2017

Column: Safety Culture—Get the Team on Board

In 2017, workplace injuries and illnesses remain one of the most prolific threats to business stability and reputation. Safety technologies, procedures, policies, and programs have all evolved, yet there still remains a lot of work to do in many industries and workplaces to transform safety behaviors and attitudes. All too often, safety meetings in the workplace see team members fall silent, offer intermittent head nods, show resistance to change, stifle a yawn, or make regular glances at the clock. For those not directly employed in a safety role, discussions around responsibilities for workplace health and safety can be boring.

Developing an understanding and appreciation for safety programs, controls, and procedures among such personnel can be challenging. When policies and programs are introduced, team members may make an effort to adhere and comply initially, but this usually only lasts for a very short time. Why does this happen? It all boils down to the absence of a strong safety culture.

Read the full column here.

NOPSEMA | 17 May 2017

Australia Records No Offshore Fatalities in 2016

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) has released its Annual Offshore Performance Report for the year ending 31 December 2016.

“2016 was the first year since the establishment of a national safety regulator in 2005 that no fatalities or major injuries were reported,” said Stuart Smith, chief executive officer of NOPSEMA.

“Despite another challenging year of falling oil and gas prices, it was encouraging to see improvement in many safety indicators,” Smith said.

In 2016, the number of dangerous occurrences reported fell by 17% compared with 2015, with the majority relating to unplanned events. Analysis of the dangerous occurrences indicates that the vast majority required the implementation of emergency response plans and were the result of false alarms or inadvertent manual call point activation because of human activities.

“These causes may provide reassurance to some, but NOPSEMA is concerned about the frequency of the occurrences and the risk of workforce complacency,” Smith said.

An increase in public scrutiny regarding ongoing and proposed offshore oil and gas activities featured strongly in 2016. The increased scrutiny reflects changing community expectations around consultation, engagement, and transparency by the industry.

Read the full story here.

ASSE Crafts OSHA Reform Blueprint To Improve Workplace Safety and Health

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), the world’s oldest professional safety organization, has crafted an “OSHA Reform Blueprint” that details its priorities and vision for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in a time of political change. The eight-page proposal calls for reforms to emphasize the management of risk, sharpen the agency’s focus on productive policies, and fill legislative and regulatory gaps that limit OSHA’s ability to better protect workers. The paper’s release came during North American Occupational Safety and Health Week, which was 7–13 May.

“Every change in our nation’s leadership provides an opportunity to consider better ways of protecting American workers,” said ASSE President Thomas Cecich. “With more than 100 years of experience in safety leadership, ASSE is proposing innovative approaches to improve how occupational safety and health is practiced and regulated in the United States.”

ASSE’s reform blueprint for OSHA presents recommendations vetted by safety professionals from a wide variety of industries. It proposes strategies to shift the main focus of OSHA’s mission from solely managing compliance to more effectively reducing workplace risks. That change would bring America’s regulatory practices in line with global trends while encouraging employer ownership of safety and health in their organizations. Requiring every employer to adopt a safety and health management program would help achieve that goal.

“These proposals are grounded in what ASSE’s 37,000 safety and health professionals have learned on the front lines of protecting workers,” Cecich said. “We’re confident we can help OSHA and Congress improve the regulatory oversight for occupational safety and health.”

Read the full story here.

ProAct Safety | 15 May 2017

Column: Measuring the Effectiveness of Safety Training and Communication

How much value are you obtaining from your safety communication and training efforts? In the 1950s, a simple model was created to measure training effectiveness. How quickly we forget. Donald L. Kirkpatrick, when looking at opportunities to determine the effectiveness of training efforts, identified four levels to evaluate. The first level focuses on how the people receiving the training reacted to the information or experience (Reaction). The second level has to do with evaluating the change in knowledge, skill set, and attitude (Learning). The third level looks at a change or continuance of observable behavior within the work setting (Behavior). Finally, he looked at the measurable benefits the organization realized following the training (Results).

Too many businesses tend to look only at the amount of effort put into safety communication and training and then the results yielded. They falsely believe when results improve, it is because of the effort applied. This is the correlation/causation trap.

In several recent consulting engagements, we at ProAct Safety have focused clients on better understanding the Return on Safety Attention (ROSA) and Safety Intelligence Quotient (Safety IQ) resulting from their efforts.

Read the full column here.

PSA | 11 May 2017

PSA Gives Notice of Order to Total After Audit of Martin Linge

Martin Linge is an oil and gas field in the northern part of Norway’s North Sea sector. Currently under development, the field is due to come on stream in 2018.

The operator for the field is Total. Other licensees are Petoro and Statoil.

Martin Linge is being developed with a fully integrated fixed production facility supported by a steel jacket, combined with a floating storage and offloading (FSO) unit for oil storage.

The production facility is under construction at the Samsung yard in South Korea.

An audit of the Martin Linge project was conducted by the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) on 28–30 March 2017. This was directed at technical safety, electrical equipment, maintenance management, and Total’s own follow-up of technical barriers during the commissioning phase at the Samsung yard.

On the basis of the findings made during the audit, the PSA has given notice of the following order:

“Pursuant to Section 69 of the framework regulations on administrative decisions, see Sections 6, 11 and 21 of the management regulations on management of health, safety and the environment, basis for making decisions and decision criteria, and follow-up respectively, we order Total E&P Norge AS to identify and correct as far as possible faults and deficiencies, and to assess applicable plans, prioritization and use of resources to ensure acceptable commissioning before installation on the field.”

American Association of Petroleum Geologists | 9 May 2017

Extending the Reach of Drones: Interview With Jim Cieplak, Harris Corporation

Drones are currently being used in many applications, including inspecting pipelines and tanks and detecting methane leaks and seeps. Money is being saved. Resources are being discovered. But, behind the use of most drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is the issue of safely and legally operating beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS). Jim Cieplak talks about his work with Harris Corporation and BVLOS solutions.

Q: What is your name and your relationship to UAVs and drones?
A: My name is Jim Cieplak, and I am responsible for business development and strategy for Harris Corporation’s Commercial UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) Solutions business. My background in aviation stretches over nearly 30 years helping to bring surveillance and air traffic management solutions to the National Airspace System. In addition, I am licensed both as a commercial pilot and a UAS pilot. In my current role, I work with customers to support deployment of UAS in their everyday business operations, with a particular focus on beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) operations.

Q: What are some current applications of UAVs and drones that you’re involved with?
A: One of the most exciting aspects of my Harris job is that I get to work with pioneering companies at the forefront of using UAS in business operations. My first project was to explore the deployment of UAVs for inspection of the Alyeska Pipeline in Alaska. We were involved in determining the communications and navigation technologies that enable BVLOS operations in extreme conditions.

Q: What are some of the new applications and uses?
A: Businesses are finding innovative new roles for UAS such as observation tools for tracking livestock or wildlife, monitoring environmental pollution, traffic patterns, etc. Clearly, UAVs are also going to have a growing role as a transportation technology—whether shipping medicine to remote locations, delivering packages to your door, or operating as flying taxis of the future. The level of experimentation we see is extraordinary.

Read the full story here.

Reuters | 5 May 2017

CSB Says Weak Safety Standards Led to Exxon Refinery Blast

The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has concluded that a 2015 explosion at a Torrance, California, refinery then owned by ExxonMobil could have been prevented, the agency concluded in a report issued on 3 May.

Refinery units are heavily damaged after an explosion at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, California, on 18 February 2015. Credit: Reuters/Bob Riha Jr.

“This explosion and near miss should not have happened,” said CSB Chair Vanessa Allen Sutherland in a statement. “The CSB’s report concludes the unit was operating without proper procedures.”

The federal watchdog found that weaknesses in the Torrance refinery’s safety program led to the blast.

The blast blew a large piece of debris 80 ft to nearby alkylation unit settler tanks containing toxic hydrofluoric acid, which the board called a “near-miss event.”

Four workers suffered minor injuries, and part of the refinery underwent a lengthy shutdown, contributing to a spike in the state’s gasoline prices.

The Torrance refinery supplies 20% of the gasoline in Southern California and 10% statewide.

The explosion occurred when volatile hydrocarbons flowed backward through an idled gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracking unit (FCCU) to a pollution control device called an electrostatic precipitator (ESP), the CSB found.

The generation of sparks by the ESP ignited the hydrocarbons setting off the explosion.

The board, which has no regulatory authority and does not assess fines, found that the FCCU was operating without pre-established limits for a shutdown.

The agency also said Exxon relied on safeguards that it could not be sure were working and that a critical safeguard failed.

Exxon said in a statement: “We are confident we understand the cause of the blast and have worked cooperatively with the Chemical Safety Board and staff to fully understand their findings and recommendations.”

Read the full story here.