JPT | 10 August 2016

Service Company Explores Pathways To Make Driving Inherently Safer

In risk management, an inherently safer approach implies an attempt to eliminate, or at least reduce the severity and likelihood of, incident occurrence through careful attention to fundamental design and layout. This paper examines whether this approach can be applied and be effective in managing transportation safety concerning which, historically, most of the responsibility for safe driving has been placed on the individual driver and less on the design of the transportation system and features of the equipment.

As is often the case for change management, this undertaking was motivated by a tragic motor-vehicle accident in Saudi Arabia, which resulted in three fatalities, two employees and a third-party driver. Transportation-­management systems were implemented and in place, including a contractor-selection process, journey-management program, ­defensive-driving training, and in-­vehicle monitoring systems, but, as sometimes happens, compliance with planning and executional requirements was inadequate. The ­accident-investigation findings uncovered a number of gaps that existed in the transportation-management system and that eventually led to the catastrophic event. These revelations, coupled with the vision that “all motor-vehicle accidents are preventable,” presented an opportunity to revisit the way transportation safety was managed. The entire life cycle of the journey was reviewed and reorganized, from the planning stage of the journey to journey’s completion. Such an approach posed a challenge to the company definition of “preventability” for motor-vehicle accidents, which states that a preventable accident is a vehicle accident in which the driver could have driven (but failed to do so) in such a manner as to identify an accident-­producing situation soon enough to take reasonable and prudent action to avoid such an accident. This definition places the primary responsibility for preventing a vehicle accident on the driver and his ability to anticipate road hazards, assess the risks, and take actions to avoid the accident through the ability to challenge the process, including questioning the need or timing of the journey itself.

Instead of the instinctive quick-fix reaction of placing responsibility solely on the driver, the new perspective dictated that responsibility for preventing accidents lies with the company management and its ability to create a system that would comprehensively combine the management of all transportation aspects under one umbrella, including:

  • Human factors and driving behaviors
  • Journey management, with all necessary reviews and approvals
  • Vehicle speed and other driving characteristics
  • Vehicle condition and conformance to standards

Inherently Safe Driving-System Framework
What makes a system robust and inherently safe, and what must it look like? In the world of computer science, robustness is defined as “the ability of a computer system to cope with errors during execution” and also as “the ability of an algorithm to continue operating despite abnormalities of input or calculations.” To build a robust operating system, computer companies study many possible inputs and input combinations, program against every point of possible failure, and make the system intelligent enough to handle all possible error states. The goal for a new system is for it to be robust enough to monitor proactively (without direct involvement of humans), prevent any known or assumed compliance failures or violations, and enforce compliance during driving. The pillars of the conceptual inherently safe and robust driving system are intelligence, visibility, compliance, and proactivity, which rest on the foundation of independence and automation.

Intelligence. This is the ability of the fleet and journey-management software to build connections independently and automatically between the movements of vehicles and applicable journey plans, run compliance checks against their approval levels, run compliance checks against driver competencies, and highlight and send any potential breaches to designated personnel for them to audit.

Visibility. This is the ability to provide accurate, real-time information on movements of vehicles, journeys being undertaken, and their associated information such as driver, vehicle, and trip progress. In addition to the operational data, which is required to monitor execution, the system is required to provide visibility of current trends in various driving aspects (e.g., at-risk driving behaviors, journey-management breaches, fleet utilization, and night driving).

Compliance. This is the ability to ensure compliance of all elements of the driving process (i.e., driver, vehicle, journey route, and plan), either before or during the journey, to the standards within the preapproved criteria. The system must be set up to prevent selection of an unfit driver or vehicle for an intended journey, and, if the journey must progress according to a preapproved route, any deviations must be identified and corrected immediately.

Proactivity. This is the ability of the system to prevent potential breaches through predetermined controls or check points. Examples of this would be the inability to select an approved light-vehicle driver for a heavy-­vehicle trip (even if a person possesses a ­commercial-vehicle driving license) or the ability to alert a driver to stop and rest at predetermined intervals.

Independence and Automation
This driving system rests upon two primary features—automation and independence. Automation is intended to minimize the human-to-system interaction, whereas independence implies freedom from operational factors that may influence the safe operation of vehicles.

Independence. Day-to-day priorities influence operational activities. Deadlines must be met, and, often, these priorities conflict with values. It takes integrity and commitment to follow the rules, but, as is commonly recognized, the human factor is often less reliable than ­others. To avoid possible conflicts of interest, provide uncompromising independence from operational factors, and provide sufficient available resources, a new department was created called the Transportation Office. The entire purpose of this department is to oversee all transportation aspects of employees and contractors in support of the company’s work activities. This office directly manages all transport vehicles, drivers, Road Journey Management Center operations, and the Journey Management Plan process, and performs regular audits of the entire system.

The Transportation Office has responsibility and full authority for final approval of any journey to take place. Even if a journey has been approved by the driver’s manager, it will still require approval from the Journey Management Center.

Automation. Fleet-Management Improvements. In-vehicle monitoring systems are used to control compliance with speed limits and to monitor and correct drivers’ behaviors (e.g., harsh braking and harsh acceleration). However, it was determined that the system could provide more proactive control points to improve the fleet-management process for earlier detection of possible noncompliance and intervention.

Improvements were made to make the system less dependent on drivers’ attitude toward their safety. The system automatically alerts and, if required, enforces the expected behavior, and it provides new data for trend analysis and required further improvements.

e-Journey Management. Making improvements in the management of drivers’ behaviors and vehicle movements was an important step toward the “zero motor-vehicle accidents” vision but was not enough to eliminate vehicular incidents. Failures in the journey execution were a common cause and were responsible for a large percentage of motor-­vehicle accidents. To address this issue, a project was created to develop a solution that focused on “management by exception” through the integration of fleet management and automated journey monitoring. This electronic system is designed to be sufficiently intelligent to run a constant monitoring of vehicle movements and verify the compliance of their execution to their preapproved conditions. If any breach is identified, the system will alert Road Journey Management Center personnel for immediate intervention.

Passive Controls. Considering the risks of possible rollovers, a decision was made to reinforce vehicles with rollover protection. All company-owned vehicles must meet international automotive safety and quality standards, including applicable safety and crush tests by manufacturers, and must be currently safe to use.

Driver Training. A competence-­management concept was adopted regarding driver training. The driver training program has been revised to address critical defensive-driving fundamentals, company-specific driving hazards, and safe-driving expectations. The Core Defensive Driving course covers 25 specific defensive-driving skills, and a student must demonstrate not only academic knowledge of the defensive-driving material but also practical mastery of the defensive-driving skills taught.

JPT | 9 August 2016

The Influence of Communication About Safety Measures on Risk-Taking Behavior

Risk-taking behavior is an important contributing human factor to incidents and is notoriously difficult to influence. Anecdotal evidence suggests that people have a hard-wired optimal perceived risk level. People compensate for risk-reducing measures by behaving in a riskier fashion until the desired level of risk is reached again. This study looked at the effect of the number of shields of protection and uncertainty on the risk-taking behavior of the participants.

The main aim of safety research is to identify ways to prevent accidents and to ensure the safety of workers. Human error—or, in other words, unsafe behavior—has been found to be a major cause of accidents, and its elimination, therefore, is a prime goal for improving safety. The human factor is most effectively addressed by tackling the organizational system instead of focusing on incorrect actions by individuals. An effective strategy is to increase the level of protection or the number of safety barriers. The concept of the safety barrier features most prominently in the Swiss-cheese metaphor of accident causation. The Swiss-cheese model describes accidents as being caused by unchecked hazards that are allowed to cause losses. A series of barriers is placed between the hazard and that which may be harmed. The barriers keep the hazard under control and prevent it from causing harm. However, these barriers are always less than 100% adequate and contain weaknesses or holes. The barriers, therefore, often are compared to slices of Swiss cheese. Unlike real Swiss cheese, the holes in the barriers are dynamic and open and close at random. When these holes in the barriers are aligned, a path is created, leading to a potential accident.

Intuitively, one would assume that safety improves proportionally both to the protection measures taken and to the improvements in the design of such measures. The more protective equipment given to the workers, the safer they will be, either because of a reduced risk of accident or because such measures mitigate the effects of accidents. This approach assumes that human error can arise from unintended actions such as memory lapses and attention failures. However, it can also be attributed partly to intended actions such as risk taking. The question addressed in this paper is related to the extent to which people’s risk-taking behavior was influenced by their awareness of the numerous preventive interventions in place. The pivotal issue that arises is whether people adapted their risk-taking behavior as a result of their awareness of the number, and of the effectiveness, of the barriers in place.

Risk Taking
Alteration of behavior is a recurring theme in the safety literature and is described in a variety of ways—“risk compensation,” “risk homeostasis,” or the Peltzman effect. When people feel safer, they tend to take greater risks. People do not want to reduce risk to an absolute minimum but, rather, to optimize it. People are willing to accept a certain level of risk if risky behavior (e.g., breaking a barrier in the Swiss-cheese model) comes with benefits.

There is virtually no behavior without a certain measure of risk attached to it. Therefore, the challenge is to optimize rather than to eliminate risk. This optimum, also known as the target level of risk, is the level that maximizes the overall benefit. Previous studies suggest that people constantly compare the amount of risk they perceive with their target level of risk and that they will adjust their behavior in order to eliminate any discrepancies between the two. This psychological mechanism constitutes a case of circular causality.

The mechanism is similar to a thermostat, where there are fluctuations in the room temperature but where such fluctuations are averaged over time; the temperature will remain stable unless set to a new target level. The risk homeostasis theory (RHT) transfers the homeostatic effect of a thermostat to risk behavior. RHT posits that, similar to a thermostat that has a target temperature, people have a target level of risk. People will change their behavior in order to maintain their target level of risk.

Research Questions
Previous research has given some indications that people compensate for safety measures such as barriers or shields by behaving in a riskier fashion. However, besides such anecdotal evidence, no systematic research has been carried out to consider the effect on behavior of informing people of the number of safety barriers in place for their protection. This paper sought to answer two questions:

  • Do people indeed compensate for greater layers of, or more effective, protection by behaving in a riskier fashion?
  • How do people behave when they are uncertain about the number of shields of protection?

The Experiment

Screenshot of the game.

A side-scrolling videogame was custom made for this experiment. It required the player to navigate a small spaceship through an asteroid field, with asteroids moving from right to left after materializing randomly on the y-axis. The spaceship was controlled with the arrow keys on the keyboard. The up and down keys moved the spaceship up and down, and the right and left keys increased and decreased the speed, respectively. Five different speed levels ranged from 1 (default) to 5 (maximum). The number of shields left was indicated as can be seen in Fig. 1. Whenever the ship crashed against an asteroid, the player lost a shield. This process continued until there were no shields left. A collision at that point would end the game. In circumstances where participants did not know the number of shields the ship had, a question mark was displayed in front of their spaceship. The game measured the time a player spent on each shield and the total amount of points a participant scored. Points were gained by staying alive. The faster a participant flew, the more points he or she gained per second. Such bonus points acted as an incentive for participants to increase speed in order to achieve higher scores.

To test if the layers of protection and the uncertainty about their number had an impact on the risk-taking behavior of participants, an experimental design was chosen. This design allowed for the determination of causal relationships. This experiment focused on the relation between the number of shields (maximum five) and the level of risk taking. There were 104 students participating in the experiment. Participants were randomized to participate in two out of six possible sets of conditions:

  • Condition 1—Zero shields
  • Condition 2—One shield
  • Condition 3—Two shields
  • Condition 4—Three shields
  • Condition 5—Four shields
  • Condition 6—Unknown number of shields (actually four shields)

The data were analyzed, and univariate analyses of variances (ANOVAs) were used to analyze the different trends to evaluate four hypotheses.

Hypothesis 1. The average mean of speed is different for varying conditions: The higher the number of barriers to which participants are exposed, the greater the degree of risk they take in flying.

A univariate ANOVA was calculated to see if the average speed was different for the varying conditions. Condition 6 was excluded. A significant difference was found, with a significant upward linear trend. Hypothesis 1 was confirmed.

Hypothesis 2. The average mean of time spent per shield is different for varying conditions: The fewer shields participants are exposed to, the more time they spend per shield.

A univariate ANOVA was calculated to see if the average speed was different for the varying conditions. Condition 6 was excluded. A significant difference was found, with a significant downward linear trend representing the data best. In Condition 5, players spent less time per shield than in Condition 1. Hypothesis 2 was confirmed.

Hypothesis 3. In conditions of uncertainty, participants fly more slowly than in conditions where they know how many barriers they are exposed to.

A repeated-measures ANOVA with a Greenhouse-Geisser correction determined that the average speed of play throughout Condition 6 differed significantly statistically between shields. A significant upward linear trend represented the data best. Hypothesis 3 was confirmed.

Hypothesis 4. In conditions of uncertainty, participants spend more time per shield than in equivalent conditions where they know how many barriers they are exposed to.

A repeated-measures ANOVA with a Greenhouse-Geisser correction determined that the average time played per shield throughout Condition 6 did not differ significantly statistically between shields. Hypothesis 4 was not confirmed.

When participants entered the game with five shields, they played in a significantly riskier fashion than when they entered with only a single shield. This is a highly relevant finding, considering that costly risk-assessment techniques may be of little value if improvements in safety systems are outweighed by the risks introduced by changes in operator behavior. However, removing safety features might not be a very ethical move. One suggestion could be to hide protection mechanisms from the system operators until needed. This goes toward creating a feeling of uncertainty or ambiguity among workers concerning their safety, which could be accompanied by a communication strategy emphasizing this uncertainty. Putting a greater number of layers of protection in place was not rendered ineffective completely by increased risk taking. Although the limitations of this study should be recognized, organizations might reconsider the practice of giving information to their employees on the number of safety measures that are taken. Preserving ignorance among employees concerning the enhanced protection in place creates a stronger safety buffer because it reduces risk-taking behavior and improves employees’ efforts to make sure that the presumed last layer holds.

JPT | 6 August 2016

Operational Risk: Stepping Beyond Bow Ties

This paper presents the multiple-physical-barrier (MPB) approach to operational (or process) risk, an extension of the common bow-tie technique for identifying risk. Bow ties identify a variety of different types of barriers and help communicate safety principles that link causal factors and subsequent actions to a specific event. By narrowing the focus to physical barriers and by developing success paths that enable each barrier to perform its safety function, the MPB approach moves further toward a systematic approach to operational-risk management.

Introduction—Operational Risk, Bow Ties, and Physical Barriers

Example bow-tie analysis for a well kick while drilling.

Operational Risk. One of the more elusive issues in the upstream oil and gas industry is the understanding of process safety or process risk—especially how it overlaps with industrial (or personal) safety—and the types of tools needed to assess and manage it. An important part of this hinges on the role that barriers play in the analysis and what constitutes a barrier. Some companies consider training to be a barrier, others consider certain meetings to be barriers, and still others consider safety procedures themselves to be barriers. Indeed, there is scarce practical agreement between companies as to how process risk is assessed, managed, and communicated. As a result, there can be similarities, but, ultimately, no two process-risk assessments from different companies look the same.

Several different barriers are shown in the bow-tie diagram in Fig. 1. Barrier types there include the well-control program, mud checks, fill-ups, and escalation barriers.

Bow-Tie Analysis. Bow-tie analysis has been widely used in the offshore oil and gas industry as a technique for communicating safety issues and safety control measures. Bow-tie analysis is event based; it seeks to tie causal factors and subsequent actions to a specific event, such as a kick. Bow-tie diagrams help teams better understand the sequences that can lead to serious process or operational risks. They also identify mitigating actions that can be taken to reduce the consequences of a major event.

The MPB Approach—A Pathway to Success
The MPB approach was developed with the help of collaborations from the upstream oil and gas industry. It takes a step beyond bow ties toward a more-direct and -systematic understanding of operational risk so that operators can design their operations to be successful. In so doing, risk is systematically identified and evaluated and can be incorporated into the management system to help ensure the safety of offshore operations.

This paper posits that operational risk stems from the breech, removal, or failure to properly install or maintain a required physical barrier. If all required physical barriers are in place and effective, then there will be no operational safety incidents. If all of the cement-plug barriers, fluid-column barriers, and blowout-preventer barriers had been effective, there would not have been any of the major accident events in the Gulf of Mexico, including explosions, loss-of-well-control events, and major environmental spills. Operational risk is fundamentally about establishing and maintaining MPBs.

Physical barriers are designed, constructed, operated, and maintained to ensure that they can perform under adverse conditions. In many cases, multiple physical barriers are required so that, in case one barrier fails, another is in place to achieve the safety function (e.g., contain hydrocarbons). More broadly, the MPB approach reflects the concept that the number of physical barriers should be commensurate with the risk of the ­associated activity.

The focus of the MPB approach lies with two leading questions:

  • What are the physical barriers required for the operation at hand?
  • What is needed to ensure that these barriers succeed in meeting their safety functions?

These questions marry principles from two very different industries (nuclear and maritime). The focus on physical barriers that is foundational to the nuclear safety industry and the ability to diagram and trace how critical systems function (e.g., performance qualification standards) form a key part of training for engineers in the US Navy and the US Coast Guard. Both perspectives were adapted, and templates were developed to diagram this approach as a success path.

It is this understanding of success paths, especially when applied to the physical barriers, that paves the way toward systematically elucidating the risks. It is important to visualize what must be successful in order to understand what can fail. In effect, this approach is designed to increase operational awareness with the aim of managing operational risk more effectively.

This success-path model is straightforward and provides a number of benefits including

  • It is a systematic mechanism for getting at the root cause of operational safety risks that can lead to major accidents. The top-down approach starts at the highest levels first and then enables drill-downs to whatever level of detail is needed to identify the safety problem or match the available data.
  • It provides a risk-informed communications framework for communicating with rig workers, senior executives, regulators, and everyone in between. Rig workers can identify their roles within the success paths and readily understand how their actions are integral to maintaining the success of the barrier. At the other end of the spectrum, for example, executives are sometimes faced with making decisions regarding new technologies, and key details may not be fully understood. This approach is well-suited to bring them up to speed in many of the technical details.
  • A success-path approach enables decision makers to understand the key points required for success and then participate in the discussion about risks and safety. Further, it provides a consistent and rigorous basis for defending the decisions that have been made, whether to senior executives or third parties. The foundations of this approach have been demonstrated to hold up in legal situations.
  • It also serves as an important training tool that enables students to grasp the key operational safety issues. Each physical barrier can be systematically analyzed to provide the foundation needed to manage the operational working environment safely.

The value of the MPB approach is that it steps beyond the bow-tie analysis techniques by placing the focus directly where the risk is—namely, on the physical barriers, their safety functions, and the success paths (both automated and human) that are needed to ensure the success and safety of the operation.

The hierarchy of physical barrier, safety function, and success path is not a coincidence. This chain of cause-and-effect logic forms the basis of operational-risk management for a system, a rig, a well, or a facility. Ultimately, however, it is the role of the operational plan or management system to call out strategies for maintaining the success paths.

The MPB approach is sufficiently intuitive for everyday use yet powerful enough for large-scale integration. When it comes to process (or operational) safety on offshore oil and gas facilities, the devil is in the details, but the MPB approach guides its practitioners to find and identify those details systematically. The benefits are not only for the practitioners but also for guiding the entire operational team on a path toward intuitively understanding the safety implications of their roles and implementing a successful operation.

This approach also positions operational-risk management to be quantified at some point in the future. When reliability quantification is incorporated, the safety significance of any component, system, or set of human actions can be compared and evaluated ­numerically.

Rigzone | 1 August 2016

Offshore Safety Improves Across UK Continental Shelf Oil, Gas Operations

Offshore safety across oil and gas operations on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) continued to improve in 2015, according to the 2016 Oil & Gas UK Health & Safety Report published 1 August.

Offshore safety across oil and gas operations on the UK Continental Shelf continued to improve in 2015, according to the 2016 Oil & Gas UK Health & Safety Report published August 1.

There were no reported fatalities, and reportable injury rates were lower than that of other industries such as manufacturing, construction, retail, and education. The lost-time injury frequency rate on the UKCS was also below the European average and lower than Norway, Denmark, and Ireland.

The category of dangerous occurrences—which captures oil and gas releases, fires or explosions, dropped objects, and weather damage—was down overall, too, with an almost 30% fall between 2013 and 2015. Within that category, the total number of oil and gas releases rose slightly by 9%, with the majority of these classified as minor, while major releases remained the same.

A rise in minor releases could partially reflect that more and more operators are using technology that helps detect the smallest of escapes. New reporting criteria also came into place in the second half of 2015 and now includes releases that were not deemed reportable under previous legislation.

EHS Journal | 1 August 2016

Driving a Risk-Based Approach to EHS Auditing

In recent years, there has been considerable discussion in the environmental, health, and safety (EHS) audit profession about how to apply the concept of risk to an audit program. The theory is that risk-based programs will likely result in a more-efficient and -effective application of resources and a more-targeted focus on truly important issues as opposed to pedantic administrative deficiencies. Historically, most of the discussion has centered principally on establishing facility audit frequencies based on risk using factors such as

  • Size of the facility
  • Facility location and setting
  • Regulatory environment
  • Uniqueness of the product
  • Complexity of the operation
  • Compliance history
  • Previous audit results.

It should be noted that there are some trends, in the US in particular, that are possibly hindering the movement toward full risk-based programs beyond simply defining audit frequencies based on risk. One of these is the continued growth of EHS regulations in the US, driven principally by the fact that, in 2016, there are more pages of regulations in the Title 29 (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) and Title 40 (Environmental Protection Agency) US Code of Federal Regulations (over 29,000 pages total) than at any time in history.  Noncompliance with each and every one of the requirements contained in the codes could carry with it statutory penalties exceeding USD 50,000 per day per violation plus possible criminal penalties including prison time.  Also, according to Enhesa’s 2016 Global EHS Regulatory Forecast posted on their website, the regulatory growth in other parts of the world is beginning to rival that of the US.

This increase in the regulatory burden can cause audit program leaders to design programs with a fail-safe approach, addressing the universe of regulatory requirements equally, even those of a strictly administrative nature. This, in turn, has generated automated protocols and processes addressing thousands upon thousands of questions for the auditor to answer, a virtually impossible task; ask anyone who has ever conducted an EHS compliance audit at a major industrial operation located in the United States or in any other part of the developed world for that matter.

Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement | 27 July 2016

BSEE Director Reaches Out to Federal Agency Partners To Help Address Failures in Safety Equipment

In another step to address a critical safety concern involving the failure of subsea bolts offshore, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Director Brian Salerno is forming an interagency group to focus on the subsea bolt issue and the risks it poses to offshore operations. Director Salerno is calling upon federal partners to work on this critical safety issue as part of BSEE’s Interagency Bolt Action Team.

“The failure of bolts in subsea oil and gas operations presents a major risk for offshore workers and the environment,” Salerno said. “I have challenged offshore operators, drilling companies, manufacturers, and industry organizations to be more proactive in addressing this safety issue, and it makes sense to bring our federal counterparts into this important effort.”

Federal team members including subject-matter experts and regulators from bolts-related industries will work together to identify root causes of the bolt/connector failures, review industry standards, and develop solutions for future safe use of bolts and connectors.

“By engaging with subject-matter experts and individuals with knowledge of materials science and metallurgical shearing and corrosion, the team will be the first cross-agency group to address the causes and solutions to the bolt problem,” Salerno said.

Offshore Energy Today | 25 July 2016

Safety Watchdog Spots Irregularities During Teekay FPSO Audit

Norwegian offshore safety body the Petroleum Safety Authority has found several irregularities and improvement points during an audit of Teekaya floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessel operator in the North Sea.

Teekay’s Petrojarl Knarr FPSO.

PSA’s audit, conducted aboard the Petrojarl Knarr FPSO, focused on overall barrier management, examining the interactions between operational, organizational, and technical barrier elements.

The safety body said on 22 July that the objective of the audit was to monitor regulatory compliance concerning barriers and to verify that technical, operational, and organizational barrier elements have been maintained in an integrated and consistent manner to minimize the risk of major accidents to the greatest extent possible.

Offshore Energy Today | 26 July 2016

Safety Probe Finds Improvement Points on Heimdal

Norwegian offshore safety watchdog, the Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA), has identified several improvement points during an audit of Statoil and Gassco. No nonconformities were found.

Heimdal platform. Photo courtesy of Statoil.

PSA said on 21 July that the audit was conducted on 9 and 10 June and that the revealed improvement points were related to the condition of the main support structures at Heimdal offshore gas field.

The organization added that the objective of the audit was to see how Statoil and Gassco maintain the integrity of the main support structures of an operational facility.

No nonconformities were identified during the audit while the improvement points found regarded document archiving and correlations between analyses and load-bearing structures and maritime systems.

Rigzone | 25 July 2016

Column: Leading Procedural Compliance With a Checklist Culture

As the oilfield nears the “great crew change” and goes through one of the more transformative periods in a generation, it is clear that industry leaders will have to make smart and strategic choices. Modern drilling rigs and hydraulic fracturing have contributed to an increase in efficiencies from a technological and engineering standpoint.


However, the human component of rig or fracturing crews has not seen concomitant gains. Operational paradigms of the past no longer suit the cost-constrained world of today or the foreseeable future. Significant gains in human efficiencies in the oil patch must also be realized while equally addressing the external environmental pressures and occupational/process safety concerns further raised by an influx of inexperienced workers.

For many, that’s the rub. Can gains be made in efficiencies on the drilling rig or with the fracturing crew without sacrificing safety? For far too long the belief has been that there is a tradeoff between safety and efficiency, or “I need better processes to be more efficient,” or experience is the most effective tool for operational efficiency. If you are asking yourself, “What processes or experience can I use to go faster (to be more efficient) without sacrificing safety?” then I would argue you are that you are not only asking the wrong question but that you also are approaching the topic with a flawed mindset. The better question to ask is, “What system of operations can I put into place that will dramatically improve both efficiency and safety?”

Rigzone | 19 July 2016

Safety Investment Remains Resilient Despite Downturn

Oil and gas companies are continuing to invest in safety research despite the current oil price downturn, DNV GL representatives said.


“Business is tough in the oil and gas sector, but committed customers are still investing in safety improvement. They’re still conducting research into major hazards,” said Gary Tomlin, DNV GL UK’s vice president of safety and risk.

Naturally, the level of this investment was slightly hampered by the drop in crude prices, but investment has started to increase over the last couple of months.

“We saw a hiccup and, to be honest, it’s inevitable. When the oil price drops from USD 110 a barrel to USD 27, you’re kidding yourself if you’re not going to see a hiccup,” said Hari Vamadevan, DNV GL Oil & Gas’ regional manager for the UK and West Africa.


“We’ve seen a pickup I would say over the last couple of months … oil recovery to USD 50 has helped a little bit, I think there’s positive cash flows for some companies, but many companies haven’t stopped [investing],” he added.

Investment in this type of research is expected to rise even further over the not too distant future, as the oil price achieves an anticipated rise and oil and gas firms gain more access to expendable income.

“From an industry perspective we think … we’ll see an upturn 2017–2018,” Tomlin said. “I think that we’ve plateaued. We are a cyclical oil and gas industry … I think we’ve hit the low point, but we do need to be aware that we still need to control costs,” Vamadevan said. “I think companies will become profitable at USD 50 and USD 60 per barrel, and, as the price rises, I think there will be more investment. So I am hopeful that we will see more activity going forward,” he added.

Offshore Energy Today | 12 July 2016

Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Industry “Ready for a New Era in Safety”

Nigerian government officials and representatives from the country’s oil and gas sector have joined forces in Lagos on OPITO’s 1-day seminar to discuss how to make the country’s energy sector a safer place to work.

Shell’s Bonga floating production, storage, and offloading vessel offshore Nigeria.

Over 70 attendees heard from speakers including Onyebuchi Sibeudu, head of safety and environment at the Nigerian government’s Department of Petroleum Resources; Mohammed Dewu from the Petroleum Technology Development Fund; Musa Rabiu from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company; and Amadi Amadi, S & E technical manager, Shell Nigeria.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer and employs around 12.5% of the region’s labor pool. OPITO, an international oil and gas skills organization whose safety training is taken by 250,000 people every year, was approached by the Nigerian government and oil and gas producers with the aim to improve the skills of local workers and develop the technical competence needed to carry out their roles safely.

OPITO’s group chief executive David Doig said: “There is an increasing awareness in Nigeria of the value in ensuring the competency of the offshore workforce and the benefits of improving the levels of safety for each individual.”

He added that there are three training providers in Nigeria approved to deliver OPITO’s standards while another seven companies signed up for the workshop showing a commitment to adopt OPITO standards.

“This interest coupled with that of the government and international firms operating in the region sees Nigeria’s oil and gas industry ready for a new era in safety and competency,” Doig said.

ProAct Safety | 12 July 2016

Column: Special vs. Common Causation

W. Edwards Deming, one of the fathers of manufacturing quality control, explained the difference between special causes and common causes. He was speaking of the causes of defects in manufacturing processes. He explained that sometimes someone does something obviously wrong, a machine malfunctions or raw material has an obvious flaw. When such an event causes a defect in manufacturing, that defect has a special cause. However, sometimes everyone performs normally, machines function as usual, raw materials meet specs, and still a defect happens. Such defects, according to Deming, have common causes. In other words, the cause of the defect is common to the process. It is built in and does not require outside intervention to make it happen. According to Deming, such defects may not happen frequently, and often may not be accurately assessed or diagnosed.

Think how this dichotomy applies to safety. An accidental workplace injury, just like a manufacturing defect, is an undesired and unplanned outcome of a process. Work processes are designed to produce products or services, not defects or injuries. The causes of workplace injuries can fall into the same two categories as the causes of manufacturing process defects. A worker can do something wrong, a machine can malfunction, or irregular events of other kinds can happen. When these things result in accidental injuries, such injuries could be said to have special cause. However, when organizations investigate accidents and fail to find irregular conditions or behaviors as root causes, they do not always consider the alternatives. It is at this level of investigation that Deming’s observations can help improve safety.