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.

Petroleum Safety Authority Norway | 27 April 2017

Safety Challenges Across National Borders

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway’s participation in international arenas for interagency cooperation shows that current challenges in the petroleum industry are common to most countries.

 International Regulators’ Forum (IRF)
This forum is a meeting place for the heads of agencies with official responsibility for health, safety, and the environment in the petroleum activities of Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the UK, and the US.

At the annual meeting in October 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand, the countries reported on important ongoing matters and outlooks. Discussions of the various topics clearly show that many of the safety challenges are common to most countries. Safety in a low-price scenario is one of the key topics of the discussions.

North Sea Offshore Authorities Forum (NSOAF)
Like the IRF, the NSOAF is a forum for the heads of the safety authorities, in this case of the countries surrounding the North Sea.

As with the IRF, the cooperation here demonstrates the commonality of many of the problems. Some of these are more specific than for the IRF, in that the North Sea countries have particular challenges relating to environmental concerns in the North Sea and the High North.

Arctic Offshore regulators Forum (AORF)
This is a cooperative forum for the safety authorities in the Arctic countries, with active participation from Canada, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and the US. Its purpose is to discuss and evaluate safety-related threats and opportunities in the High North, in order to promote a high level of safety in petroleum activities in the Arctic.

Read the full story here.

Bloomberg | 27 April 2017

Anadarko Shares Fall After Colorado Blast Prompts Well Closings

Anadarko Petroleum dropped the most since August after the oil and natural gas explorer said it will shut more than 3,000 Colorado wells as part of an investigation into a deadly house explosion.

A Frederick-Firestone firefighter rolls up a hose in front of a burned out home 18 April 2017 in Firestone, Colorado. Credit: Andy Cross/Denver Post via Getty Images.

Shares slipped as much as 5.6% to USD 56.59 in New York trading, their biggest intraday slide since 1 August, and were down 4.8% to USD 57.07 as of 10:15 a.m. in New York on 26 April. Anadarko will close and inspect the wells as a precaution after the 17 April blast, The Woodlands, Texas-based driller said in a statement on 26 April. Colorado authorities said they have yet to determine a cause for the tragedy.

The explosion just north of Denver in Firestone, Colorado, killed two people. While the closed wells represent a small fraction of Anadarko’s total production, “investors may be concerned by potential regulatory blowback against the industry,” analysts at Houston investment bank Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. said in a note to clients on 27 April.

Read the full story here.

The Associated Press | 7 April 2017

Thousands of Defects Found on Oil Train Routes

Government inspections of railroads that haul volatile crude oil across the United States have uncovered almost 24,000 safety defects, including problems similar to those blamed in derailments that triggered massive fires or oil spills in Oregon, Virginia, Montana, and elsewhere, according to data obtained by The Associated Press.

In this 1 May 2014 file photo, survey crews in boats look over tanker cars along the tracks where several CSX tanker cars carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire along the James River near downtown Lynchburg, Va. Credit: Steve Helber/AP.

The safety defects were discovered during targeted federal inspections on almost 58,000 miles of oil train routes in 44 states. The inspection program began 2 years ago following a string of oil train accidents across North America, including a 2013 derailment in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, that killed 47 people.

Federal regulators said the inspections resulted in 1,118 violation recommendations, prompting railroads to become more responsive to concerns raised by track inspectors and to improve safety.

Problems identified by federal inspectors included worn rails and other equipment; bolts meant to hold tracks in place that were broken, loosened, or missing; and cracks in steel bars joining sections of track. They also noted failures by railroads to quickly fix problems identified through inspections.

Such issues are not uncommon across the nation’s 140,000-mile freight rail network. But they’ve received heightened attention after rail shipments of crude oil increased and the number of major derailments spiked following a surge in domestic energy production.

Read the full story here.

IOGP | 4 April 2017

New Standard Integrates Safety Into Design

The oil and gas industry has always recognized that facility design heavily influences the likelihood and consequences of major incidents, and, since Piper Alpha in 1987, considerable effort has gone into preventing further tragedies. Despite these improvements, however, there have still been more than 60 fatalities as a result of fires and explosions on offshore installations such as the accidents on Deepwater Horizon, Bombay High, Abkatun A, and Gunashili No 10.

However, despite a worldwide focus on improving offshore safety, there had never been an international standard to guide project managers to integrate safety and environmental protection into the overall design process.

Now there is. The December 2016 publication of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 17776:2016, Major Accident Hazard Management During the Design of New Installations, was the work of an International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) group of specialists in offshore safety, led by Nigel Savage with Shell.

It was a major collaborative exercise. The extended project team—working under IOGP’s standards solution put in place for ISO work—consisted of more than 20 members. Consultation on the draft document generated more than 300 high-quality comments and suggestions.

Read the full story here.

IOGP | 4 April 2017

Five Years On: Oil Spill Project Achieves Industry ‘Step Change’

After 5 years, the Oil Spill Response Joint Industry Project (OSR-JIP) is coming to a close.

Founded in the aftermath of the Macondo and Montara accidents, the JIP was a key initiative of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers’ Global Industry Response Group (GIRG), which focused on major incident prevention, intervention, and response.

As part of its remit, the OSR-JIP produced

  • Twenty-four good practice guides (GPGs), covering response, strategy, preparedness, and impacts. These replaced the IPIECA Oil Spill Report Series published between 1990 and 2008.
  • Eleven technical and research reports, developed to communicate technical good practice or to make it accessible to external parties. Subjects included work on dispersant licensing and approvals, dispersant logistics, in situ burning equipment, post-spill monitoring, oil spill response preparedness for offshore installations, oil spill removal organization assessment, and volunteer management case studies.
  • Eleven small research projects to find better methods for comparing the efficiency of dispersants against various types of crude and to determine aspects of response such as residue characterization from in situ burning operations.
  • Several outreach and communication materials. Among these are simple videos/animations, presentations for a variety of audiences, and materials for company use in-house. A Confident Ambassador program trained hundreds of industry staff worldwide to raise awareness of progress in oil spill response.

Read the full story here.