Safety
Oil & Gas UK | 1 July 2015

Annual Report Shows Increased Offshore Safety Performance

There have been further improvements in the management of major safety hazards offshore, according Oil & Gas UK’s Health & Safety 2015 Report published 1 July.

Based on incidents reported to the Health and Safety Executive for April 2014 to March 2015 and shared with the trade body, the total number of hydrocarbon releases—oil and gas leaks—has gone down and is at its lowest level ever.

Offshore oil and gas has a lower personal injury rate than many other sectors, including construction, transport, manufacturing, health, retail, and education, the report reveals. The nonfatal injury rate for offshore workers also continues to show a declining trend.

Securing continued effective search and rescue helicopter cover for offshore workers in the central North Sea was a major milestone for the sector. The industry remains focused on aviation safety, with the launch of measures such as a new emergency breathing system for offshore flying and changes to helicopter seating allocation based on passenger size.

Preparing for the introduction into UK law of the EU Offshore Safety Directive—the single biggest shake-up of offshore health, safety, and environment management for a decade—has also been a key focus for the industry.

However, the report did find a growing backlog of safety-critical maintenance on offshore installations.

Robert Paterson, health, safety and employment issues director at Oil & Gas UK, said, “Industry, on the whole, is performing well across a range of safety criteria. However, ours is a major hazard sector where complacency has no place.

“The overall reduction in hydrocarbon releases is to be welcomed, and we must continue our focus on curbing these even further.

“Safe offshore transport remains a priority. 2014 saw the launch of the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) CAP 1145 report into aviation safety. Some of the measures proposed were already under way, but this is an area where progress continues to be made with the CAA, helicopter operators, industry, and trade unions meeting regularly to monitor progress and stimulate action.

“Industry also demonstrated its commitment to safety by funding an offshore search and rescue helicopter service for the central North Sea to ensure the same levels of rescue and recovery service following changes to previous provision.

“Our report did find a growing backlog of safety-critical maintenance offshore, and this is an area that needs close attention. However, decisions on deferring maintenance are taken following robust management systems that assess risk and involve the relevant technical and engineering authorities. All operators are also being encouraged to participate in providing data to all stakeholders to best reflect how the industry as a whole is managing safety-critical maintenance.

“Producing hydrocarbons safely, ensuring assets are operated safely, and transporting our workforce to and from installations safely is of paramount importance to the industry. Despite these difficult times, they must always remain our priority.”

Rigzone | 24 June 2015

BSEE Recognizes Center for Offshore Safety for SEMS Audits

Recent federal regulatory changes now require US outer continental shelf operators to use accredited and independent third parties to audit their safety programs.

The Center for Offshore Safety (COS), which has already certified more than 70 companies, has been recognized by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) as the first and currently only official accreditation body for audit service providers.

Previously, companies either performed their own safety audits or would voluntarily use a third party auditors. The 5 June changes to BSEE regulations now means that Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) audits conducted on the US outer continental shelf must be in compliance with the SEMS II Rule, which requires that the team lead for an audit be independent and represent an accredited audit service provider. SEMS II, finalized in April 2013, is intended to enhance the original SEMS rule, or Workplace Safety Rule, issued in October 2010 in response to the Deepwater Horizon accident earlier that year. SEMS II took effect last year but did not affect the first audit cycle.

Plant Services | 24 June 2015

Column: Risk Scoring Using Your CMMS

With growing automation and more complex assets comes growing risk, where risk is defined as the probability and impact of a negative consequence. In the world of asset management, negative consequences can take many forms, such as premature failure, a more catastrophic failure than anticipated, or an incident or near miss involving an asset. This is why regulatory bodies have increased their vigilance and reporting requirements in almost every industry. It is also why accurate risk scoring using your computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) has risen in importance.

This column provides guidelines and considerations in establishing a risk score. Whatever method you use to generate a risk score must be simple to learn and use but sufficiently comprehensive to be effective in managing total risk.

Objective of a risk score
An effective risk scoring model helps you find the right balance when trying to

  • Minimize risk
  • Maximize asset performance and reliability
  • Minimize the total cost of ownership for your physical assets

Risk scoring ensures you focus on the right work on the right assets at the right time, in order to manage the tradeoffs. Too much attention spent on mitigating every risk is very expensive, but so is ignoring a risk that is highly probable and carries catastrophic consequences. These extremes are obvious, but risk scoring helps manage the more nebulous middle ground.

Occupational Health & Safety | 18 June 2015

Column: Do You Really Know Your Safety Culture?

Theoretically, there is no such thing as a safety culture, but every company has one. Safety is part of all company cultures—great, good, or bad—and we use the term “safety culture” to give it an improvement focus and bookends to manage within. To use or not use the term safety culture is an irresponsible and pointless debate. Beliefs and behaviors specific to desired safety outcomes already exist and shape decisions within an organization. Safety cultures exist; how well do you know yours?

Some believe safety culture as a stand-alone concept is wrong, as it implies safety is in addition to the operational culture. Cultures change when group behaviors and values change; thus, there must be specificity regarding which beliefs, behaviors, and experiences to take on. Depending on the maturity of safety’s role in company priorities and values, such as our best-performing clients, this argument has merit.

To say we shouldn’t view safety as separate from occupational culture when it often is in many companies is painting a picture of utopia without a plan to get there when dystopia is the current reality. Considering your current situation, is safety a shared responsibility and interest or a delegated priority and something to be done in addition to revenue-producing activities? What is common regarding safety?

The way we do things around here, why we do what we do, and what people do when no one is looking are artifacts of culture. Culture is what’s common within a group. Regarding safety, what beliefs, knowledge levels, decisions, observable behaviors, and stories overheard from peers are common within your organization? What needs to be? How clear are you on where the gaps are and the reasons for their existence?

Occupational Health & Safety | 18 June 2015

Column: Three Essentials for Elevating Safety Culture

You’ve likely heard the expression, “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’ “? Similarly, there are three I’s in “Global-Class Safety Culture and Performance.” Don’t see them? They’re essential but below the surface, driving significant and lasting injury reduction while winning mindset and active engagement. That’s what I’ve seen in almost 3 decades of working worldwide with a range of companies. Those that best progress from Level 1 to Level 4 safety cultures increasingly foster greater inspiration, involvement, and internalization. And they stimulate all three at the same time.

This progression is the opposite of trying to hit three targets with separate initiatives or interventions; with such a dispersed approach, different budget lines—or even staff—typically focus on their sole arena of responsibility, frequently leading to wasted energy, lack of coordination, or turf pulls. Rather, the most effective strategy aims to concurrently gain three positive results from one movement. It’s like planting a fruit tree that simultaneously provides food, shade, and mental harmony. But there’s one big difference: Planting a fruit tree typically has delayed returns, whereas stimulating involvement, inspiration, and internalization gets desired results relatively quickly, building momentum toward plummeting injury incidence and severity while seriously propelling safety mindset and other cultural improvements.

David Hatch via LinkedIn | 15 June 2015

Column: Have You Got a Tiger in Your (Storage) Tank?

You are probably well aware of the analogy that process safety management is similar to a keeping a tiger (or gorilla) in a cage [i.e., you know the tiger is dangerous (process is hazardous), but you show (operate) it to make money]. You have to care for the tiger to make sure it attracts visitors and also ensure that the containment is suitable to prevent it escaping and potentially killing personnel and public.

So, are your sure that

  • The cage/lock is strong enough (design)
  • You are maintaining the cage/lock (maintenance)
  • Nobody has altered the cage/lock (modifications)
  • The door is not left open (training/procedures)
  • Nothing can crash into the cage (protection)
  • You know what to do if it escapes (emergency response)

Monitoring System Makes Confined Spaces Safer

Confined spaces are areas that have limited means for entry or exit and are not designed for continuous occupancy. Confined spaces include pipelines, tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, and ductwork. A number of workers are injured or killed each year while working in confined spaces, and an estimated 60% of the fatalities reported were would-be rescuers.

Ensuring safety within confined spaces is one of the more challenging aspects of maintenance projects. This considerable level of danger calls for extra safety measures, such as constant monitoring and record keeping of confined-space work by an attendant positioned at the opening. However, the duties of the attendant are restricted to the outside of the vessel. So how are activities conducted within the confined space actively monitored?

The answer lies in leveraging technology. United Safety recently launched the TeQ Shield, a confined-space monitoring solution, at the Global Petroleum Show in Calgary on 9 June 2015.

From the TeQ Shield command center, the safety operator has continuous awareness of all confined-space work.

From the TeQ Shield command center, the safety operator has continuous awareness of all confined-space work.

One of the key benefits of the TeQ Shield is the ability to monitor the inside of a confined space remotely. From the command center, the safety operator has continuous awareness of all confined-space work. He analyzes visual input of work being performed and the surroundings, monitors gas levels, controls worker access information, and can communicate with personnel outside and inside the vessels. In the event of an emergency, he is able to convey valuable information to the rescue team before its arrival.

“With the TeQ Shield, the safety operator can rely on a solution that combines gas detection, video surveillance, two-way communication, access control, and a command center to effectively monitor confined spaces, improving safety without delaying projects or increasing costs,” said Sher Alizander, technical service manager for United Safety.

The TeQ Shield has a host of features. Cameras with day and night vision installed outside and inside vessels allow for clear visibility in a wide array of environmental conditions. Video is recorded along with gas-detection logs. The data stored can be used in training or investigations.

Two-way communication—outside and inside of the confined space—keeps personnel in constant contact with the command center. It can be used to answer questions of access control, to correct safety practices remotely, or to speak with personnel during emergencies.

The TeQ Shield is also equipped with continuous real-time gas detection. If a toxic atmosphere is detected, audible and visual alarms ensure proper evacuation. Additionally, an access-control feature uses site badges to allow only authorized individuals to enter a confined space. This enables an accurate count of who is present in the space.

The TeQ service line can be extended to cover a wide range of applications, including body cameras, monitoring of employee wellbeing, and facility-access control. The possibilities and applications will only grow as the technology evolves.

“By combining technology with safety expertise, we redefine confined-space work safety while improving the overall productivity of the event,” said Tim Wallace, executive vice president–western hemisphere for United Safety.

Read more about TeQ Shield here.

EHS Journal | 26 May 2015

Column: Dealing With Difficult, Distracting, and Disruptive Auditees

We’ve all read self-help books that describe how to deal with difficult people and handle difficult situations in the workplace. This article examines some of the more difficult people the author has encountered during environmental, health, and safety audits and presents options for handling them.

Type One: The Avoider

  • Feigns ignorance whenever asked an important or controversial question
  • Tries to delegate responsibility for answering questions to others
  • Perpetually late for opening and daily meetings
  • Uses the phrase, “Me, you mean me?”

Type Two: The Parrot 

  • Constantly reports things he heard as gospel without checking to ensure that the statements were true
  • Quickly retracts statements or corrects assertions if important colleagues or managers disagree
  • Echoes responses made by others without fully understanding the meaning of the answer or providing relevant additional information
  • Likes to recite irrelevant facts and figures
  • Can act as a poseur at times by pontificating about the “old times” and his “experience”

Type Three: The Tattler

  • Blames his shortcomings on others
  • Quickly points out the mistakes of colleagues and contractors and makes a big deal out of these deficiencies
  • Constantly runs to management with complaints and “critical issues” that aren’t getting proper attention
  • Undermines the audit process by complaining about auditor behavior, auditor comments, and unjust findings
  • Often says “I told you so”

Type Four: The Avenger

  • Has an irrational belief that his worth as a human being is tied to the number of audit findings
  • Continues to argue “unjust” findings from the last three audits conducted at the facility
  • Challenges all new findings and is willing to fight to the death to keep them out of the audit report
  • Actively seeks to delay or derail the audit by withholding information, engaging in prolonged discussions and arguments, and interrupting the auditors with new information about closed issues
  • Warns his direct reports that they better not have any findings
  • Feels that audits have winners and losers and embarrassing the audit team is a key to victory

The Bakken Magazine | 14 May 2014

Unmanned Aircraft Have Great Potential for Oil and Gas Industry

The statistics paint a grim picture of the risks involved in using manned aircraft to inspect oil and gas pipelines.

Speaking on a panel at Unmanned Systems 2015 in Atlanta, Joseph Bernard, managing director of Bernard Microsystems in London, noted that, for every million flight hours, the death rate for commercial airlines is 0.9 while the death rate for pipeline inspections in the oil and gas industry is 43.6.

“When I send an employee out to fly, I’m knowingly putting someone in the company at risk,” Bernard said. “The way to reduce that is essentially to start using unmanned aircraft. You’re not reducing the number of staff. You’re simply relocating the pilot from the low-flying aircraft to a ground station.”

Bernard was one of five speakers on a panel at the annual conference and trade show hosted by the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. They discussed emerging commercial markets for unmanned aerial systems in the oil and gas industry.

Health & Safety Middle East | 13 May 2015

Summiting Safety: Fall Arrest vs. Fall Restraint

The difference between fall arrest and fall restraint may sound like little more than a technicality, but the reality is so much more. Selecting one of these systems will leave long-lasting legacies for the worker, the safety professional, and even their accountant.

Hierarchy of Control for Falls
The hierarchy of controls for safe work at height is different to the everyday hierarchy used for other hazards. Uniquely, it mandates the process for selecting the most appropriate means of eliminating hazards on site.

While it has all the color and excitement befitting its legislative status, the falls hierarchy is well worth reading because it subtly takes into account the real-life human factors and cost considerations that matter.

While the hierarchy of control is to be applied to work practices using temporary and permanent equipment and procedures, this article deals primarily with permanent fall prevention equipment such as anchorage points, static lines, platforms, walkways, and catwalks.

Safety Built-In | 7 May 2015

Column: What Leaders Do To Drive Safety-Culture Change

Leading a safety culture is, first and foremost, an exercise in managing change. And, as with any change-management initiative, if it’s not guided by a solid plan, dogged persistence, tenacity, fearlessness, persuasion, assertiveness, and an understanding of how people may respond to that change, it’s not likely to go well.

If there’s one thing a change agent learns very quickly, it’s that the most difficult part about change is not the process, and it’s not the new program or initiative that you’re tasked with driving.

The most difficult part about change is the people you have to persuade.

Anatomy of an Incident | 29 April 2015

Column: Focusing on the Wrong Safety Metrics

Looking at the 2005 Texas City refinery fire with the benefit of nearly 10 years of reflection and much discussion of what was going on at the facility, it is difficult to imagine how anybody working there could have had any sense of personal security. Those individuals who spend most of their waking hours surrounded by flammable and explosive products in enormous quantities must become desensitized to the ever-present danger or they would not be able to walk through the gate to begin a shift. Hopefully, rational individuals find a way to let their knowledge of the danger inform their actions and motivate them to work safely. BP had created a safety culture that stressed behavioral issues but did not dedicate the same resources to process safety. Perhaps to many of the 1,800 employees and 800 contractors on the site, the notion of behavioral safety was enough to keep them coming to work every day.

Investigations after the fire on 23 March 2005 offered numerous citations of safety culture failures at the company’s corporate level, along with safety management failures at its refineries in general and Texas City in particular.