HSE NOW articles are available to SPE members.
Login Now

Implementing a Process-Safety Program

Source: JPT | 12 December 2013

Between 2006 and 2009, Petronas Carigali embarked on a process-safety program driven by concerns over an increasing trend of process-related incidents. The program focused on defining explicit process-safety expectations and then putting in place the required processes to intensify implementation and mandatory compliance. Some 3–4 years into the program, tangible improvement can be felt across the organization.


The Business Case for Process Safety

Source: JPT | 12 December 2013

Over its 27-year history, the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS) has observed that the first step toward implementing a strong process-safety-management program is obtaining top-management commitment. The CCPS has learned that communicating the business case for process safety is an important part of the process of obtaining this commitment. Using a fictional incident as a case-study example, this paper will illustrate that process safety can have financial, as well as ethical and professional, benefits.

Column: Imagine Thinking Backward

Source: The PSM Report | 12 December 2013

A useful discussion entitled Why Have We Dumbed Down Safety? at the EHSQ Elite LinkedIn site prompted some thoughts to do with the way we approach hazards analysis.

If the premise of the original post—that safety has indeed been dumbed down—is accepted, then one reason may be that we treat safety as a discrete topic, one that is its own discipline rather than being the outcome of the work of all other disciplines and activities. This creates a paradigm in which the “dumbed down” safety professionals think primarily in terms of safeguards such as personal protective equipment and emergency response. Yet a safeguard is the last stop in the safety process—indeed, if a safeguard is needed, then it shows, to a degree, that we have given up on avoiding incidents from occurring in the first place. For example, if the consequence of a hazard is a fire, then the use of the fire brigade is not really a barrier, it is an after-the-event safeguard.

Are Egos a Main Obstacle to Intelligent Energy Implementation—And Can We Get Around Them

Source: 9 December 2013

Most of the information in this column is wrong.

I don’t plan to waste your time—I believe that I have useful ideas here that could make a big contribution to offshore safety.

But when the CEO of a Norwegian oilfield services company said to me last year that “most people are wrong most of the time,” I thought, well, he’s right in the sense that I cannot think of anyone who is right most of the time. So, that probably goes for me, too.

I also want to make the point that, as reflective individuals, we do have the capacity to train our egos; and, if we believe that egos are the source of many obstacles to achieving safety, perhaps we can solve the problem at the source.

To start explaining what I mean, I would like to tell you about some talks that were presented at a breakfast forum at Offshore Europe in September 2013, about 2 weeks after the Sumburgh helicopter disaster in Scotland when four people lost their lives.

The speakers included Martin Rune Pedersen with Maersk Oil UK; Judith Hackitt, chairperson of the UK’s Health and Safety Executive; and Ian Sharp, chief operating officer for Fairfield Energy.

Pedersen explained that, every time a new drilling rig is brought to Maersk, the company organizes 2-day workshops with the drilling company staff that include team building exercises and technical discussions. Maersk values “humbleness,” which it says is “about listening and learning and giving space to others.” It also values what it calls “uprightness,” where people stick to their word.

Judith Hackitt advocated a mindset of “constant unease,” which she said “means never thinking the problem is fixed.” “Constant unease means never being complacent, being prepared to ask hard questions, and not seeking reassurance from what you know is right.”

Meanwhile, Sharp presented a result of a survey into worker engagement in the North Sea, which showed expected results on first glance; but, when examined more deeply, some questions emerge. For example: Why do site leaders feel less personally engaged in the site’s safety culture than workers do?

I am trying to pull out a common thread between all of these points—that all speakers were actually focusing on ego, a main threat to safety, and how to stop it causing problems and help us work more intelligently.

The ego, which tells us that everything is fine when it is not, the ego, which stops us questioning too hard, and the ego, which arises in difficult personal discussions when we get defensive talking to people we don’t know very well.

Defining Ego

I should probably try to define what I mean by “ego” if we are going to discuss it.

I am skipping over Wikipedia definitions of ego and coming up with one of my own, which I think you will recognize: when we create a kind of storybook self as a kind of defense.

Our actual selves can use the full force of our subconscious minds to weigh situations and figure out the best response and judgment for the benefit of everybody involved in a situation, what you want when trying to mitigate risks or find the best response after an accident.

Meanwhile, our storybook selves are worrying about how we have been treated, if the way someone spoke to us is compliant with our idea of what the storybook self wants. Our storybook self cares far more about our position in the organization and feels that being asked to change could be a sign that someone else has power over us.

But living behind our storybook selves can be easier if our real selves are not strong, or have not had enough exposure to gain strength. It is easier to see things as we would like them to be.

Drilling Rigs and Fighter Pilots

At the Integrated Operations forum in Trondheim in October 2013, I heard a talk by

Arent Arntzen, project manager for Statoil’s Arctic Drilling Unit and a former fighter pilot with the Royal Norwegian Air Force for 22 years. In it he spoke about how his pilot experience is relevant to his role now.

Much of the air force training is about avoiding the negative effects of the ego so people can do what is best for the organization, not themselves, he explained.

By contrast, oil and gas drillers make most of their decisions around not looking bad, he said. “Drillers are all mortally afraid of doing something foolish. If you know that, you can probably handle them.”

Arntzen was asked what advice he had for the oil and gas industry as to how to better manage people’s egos. In the air force, “every mission is briefed and debriefed,” he said. “When you debrief, everyone is subjected to his or her errors during this mission. That tends to shave away your ego every time.”

“Because, whether you are colonel or lieutenant, it is the same thing; you are all the same when you debrief, there is no hierarchy when you are debriefed.

“This is part of becoming an integrated team. You are able to put your position in the military hierarchy to the side. Because you were a team at the time. When you leave it, you shut the book and you back into the other structure.

“This takes some practice. And that will help with your ego.”

Lord Cullen

At the Aberdeen Piper 25 conference in June 2013, we heard from Lord Cullen, who conducted the enquiry into the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster. One of Lord Cullen’s key observations was that it is important to have people in a position to question the people who make safety decisions.

He might have said (although he did not) that this is a good way to prick people’s egos.

The “safety representative” idea was introduced in 1989 after Piper Alpha. In this idea, people elected by staff, not management, have powers to carry out investigations and can put safety concerns to senior managers without worrying about their jobs.

Companies should also have to present safety cases, or structured argument, showing that their system is as safe as reasonably practical. And this should be subject to interrogation by someone with expertise and indepednence.

Andrew Hopkins

Lord Cullen’s talk was followed by Andrew Hopkins, professor of sociology with Australian National University, who explained the critical factors with making safety cases work and why they fail.

The important features of a safety case regime, are (1) it must have a risk/ hazard framework, (2) there must be workforce involvement, (3) you must be required to make the case to a regulator, (4) the regulator must be engaged, and (5) there must be a requirement of duty of care, he said.

There is little point in introducing a safety case regime unless all five components are in place, he said.

“The US has 1 and 2, but Items 3, 4, and 5 are lacking. People say, which should you do first. My argument is this system won’t work unless you see it as a package. The safety case is not worth the paper it is written on unless it is presented to regulator for scrutiny.”

The “as low as reasonably practicable” (ALARP) requirement means that people can’t hide with the security that they have complied to a requirement because the requirement can change as soon as someone finds a less risky way to do it.

“One of the really tragic outcomes of the Macondo accident is that the US Department of Justice is prosecuting two of the wellsite leaders on the rig, who are basically foremen, low-level managers in the role they performed. In the US, we are seeing a “clumsy and misdirected prosecution,” Hopkins said.

“These are the only two individuals the Department of Justice is going to prosecute for criminal negligence. That seems to me to show a complete misunderstanding of what is going on and what the causes are.”

Hopkins also argued that the decentralization of BP, which happened after around 2000, with (for example) local drilling engineers reporting to the local asset manager rather than the company’s most senior drilling engineer, could have led to problems.

And (he might have said but did not), the senior drilling engineer has the most expertise and is maybe best able to prick the egos of his juniors, rather than the asset manager who might, if anything, just end up in a conflict over who is right, leading to inflated egos.

Intelligent Energy

We hear a lot about “management of change” as a main problem with digital energy implementations when we really mean “trouble convincing people to accept a change,” which sounds like the ego is in the room. The ego doesn’t like the idea that someone else can tell it what to do or to do things differently.

We’ll hear about conflicts people get into, which can be driven more by the ego wanting to get its own way.

We hear a lot about people given petty rules to follow, which feel like, and maybe are, someone with more power trying to show it to satisfy their egos.

We’ll also hear about people who don’t notice things as though they are more in their storybook world.

Four years ago at Intelligent Energy, I heard a great quote from Satish Pai, then vice president of operations with Schlumberger, about how so many people in the oil and gas industry want to save the world and want to convince their colleagues that the technology that they work on, or their expertise, is vital for saving the world. This also sounds like the ego in the room. Perhaps the real self doesn’t care if it saves the world or not.

Manage Ego

We are an industry that loves to manage things. Perhaps the ego is one more thing to manage; and, perhaps if we actively thought about it, we could do it very well.


Karl Jeffery is editor and cofounder of Digital Energy Journal. He is also publisher of Carbon Capture Journal and Tanker Operator, and cofounder of Digital Ship, a publishing and events company covering digital technology for the deep sea maritime industry. Jeffery holds a BEng degree in chemical engineering from Nottingham University.

Career Spotlight: Health and Safety Engineer

Source: Rigzone | 6 December 2013

For anyone interested in a well-paying, challenging, and rewarding oil and gas job that offers opportunities for relocation and comes with a lot of responsibility, one need look no further than a position falling under the category of health, safety, and environment (HSE).

There are several different positions covering a variety of industries under HSE. A health and safety engineer within the oil and gas industry plays a critical role in preventing mishaps, keeping workers healthy and injury-free, and, in general, helping to keep operations running smoothly and safely.

The position offers a number of challenges, including the need to prevent fires, explosions and emissions of contaminants into the workplace and atmosphere. They also map out ways to reduce a company’s emissions of carbon and to reduce or prevent work-related illnesses of company employees.

Beyond the moral obligations that companies have to workers and the environment in which they operate, there are potential legal ramifications and other financial concerns associated with an unsafe working environment, such as increased sick leave, employee turnover, the payment of disability benefits, and increased health care costs.

Lessons Learned From Deer Park, Texas, Plant Explosion

Source: The System Safety Skeptic | 27 November 2013

On 22 June 1997, an explosion occurred at the Shell Chemical Company plant in Deer Park, Texas. The facility produced a number of petroleum intermediates by processing crude petroleum feed stocks. Although no one was killed in the explosion, several workers received minor injuries and the facility and nearby residences were extensively damaged.

Analyses following accidents often show that clues existed before the mishap occurred. Such clues frequently take the form of anomalies, failures, and minor incidents observed during development of a new system or operation of an existing one.

Column: Safety Rules Vs. Safety Principles

Source: Safety Culture Excellence | 19 November 2013

An expert on team-building once suggested that an excellent team member may occasionally break a rule but would never violate a principle. At first, these two concepts seem incongruous. How could someone break a rule without violating a principle as well? The simple answer is that rules are incomplete and imperfect. They are often made with good intentions but seldom completely address all contingencies or always achieve the goal for which they were created. Principles, on the other hand, are more universal. They apply to all or many situations, whereas rules are often specific to a particular task or circumstance. Also, a few principles can replace a lot of rules, making it easier for workers to internalize them.

Column: Ending Vestigial Practices in Safety

Source: Phil La Duke | 19 November 2013

There is more to culture change than doing things differently. It also means ending practices that you have done for years, practices that many of you cherish and will defend with all the mettle you can muster. Organizations typically develop organically—they evolve as they transition from small entrepreneurships to professionally managed companies to giant philanthropic concerns. Along the way, many organizations create the procedural equivalents of evolutionary dead ends—policies that make little or no sense, rules designed to protect workers from hazards that no longer exist, or ways of doing things that are archaic. Often the practice might still seem like a good idea (and may, in fact, be so) but, under closer scrutiny, may clearly need updating. Other practices never were all that good idea to begin with and (should) leave us scratching our heads and asking what we were thinking when we implemented them.

New Films Get to the Heart of Safety

Source: Oilennium | 12 November 2013

Oilennium, a Petrofac Training Services company that provides eLearning training services to the oil and gas industry, and Acting Up, an Edinburgh theater company, have joined forces to offer an industry first: an online suite of dramatic films that inspire oil and gas personnel to connect emotionally with their individual health and safety behavior.

First time on film, online

The domino effect of allowing negligent behaviors pass as acceptable is explored in the live-action film

The domino effect of allowing negligent behaviors pass as acceptable is explored in the live-action film “Dead Jed.” The story follows the ghost of a dead oil worker who attends his own funeral and speaks to those who played a role in his death.

The new films are not standard health and safety training material. The short dramatic films and animations feature compelling stories about people, avoidable accidents, and their tragic aftermath.

“In the oil and gas industry, Acting Up World has an excellent track record for getting people emotionally engaged with (health and safety) training,” said Kevin Keable, managing director of Oilennium. “As providers of eLearning courses for the oil and gas industry, it’s critical that our participants are fully prepared to embrace training in safe working practices. If we can’t get participants to connect emotionally, they will not change their behavior,” he added.

Viewing these films helps make people much more receptive to safety training information. “Not only are they more likely to change their behavior, they remember these stories and often retell them at work to drive home the value of proper safety practice in the workplace,” he added.

Tragic tales drive home safety message

The suite includes a series of animated short films based on scripts of live performances by Acting Up and produced and written by Oilennium’s creative team, plus several live-action dramatic films, all of which address common themes. One explores the domino effect of letting negligent behaviors pass as acceptable, via the vehicle of the ghost of an oil worker who attends his own funeral and speaks to those involved in his death.

From the small stage to the world stage

Although this the first time that these stories will have been featured online, many people in the oil and gas industry will have seen them performed live by Acting Up, as part of their corporate training experience.

“Our aim has always been to bring performances about everyday working life to those who will never have seen messages presented in this way,” said Emma Currie, Managing Director and Founder of Acting Up World. “Our collaboration with Oilennium means these stories can now reach and inspire safe behavior in so many thousands around the world. It signals an incredibly exciting time for us, as we explore new mediums and ways to connect dramatically with those who work in the global oil and gas industry,” she added.

The Oilennium – Acting Up World eLearning suite is the most recent offering from PTS, further expanding its portfolio of training services and products for the international oil and gas industry.

Advancing Safety in the Oil and Gas Industry—Draft Safety Culture Framework

Source: Canadian National Energy Board | 8 November 2013

The operating environment of the North American oil and gas industry experienced a monumental shift on 20 April 2010 with the blowout of an offshore well in the Gulf of Mexico. Sadly, the accident killed 11workers. It also created the largest oil pollution disaster in United States’ history. That event was followed by other notable incidents across Canada and the United States, including several pipeline ruptures, spills, and explosions.

As a result of these events and others, Canadians have begun questioning the inherent risks and benefits associated with oil and gas exploration, production, and transportation. Now, more than any other time, there is growing interest in what regulators are doing to protect the public and the environment and to ensure that both regulators and energy companies are demonstrating an unwavering commitment to safety. Safety includes safety of workers and the public, process safety, operational safety, facility integrity, security and environmental protection.

Carefully designed and well-implemented management systems are essential to keep people safe and protect the environment. A management system is a set of interrelated or interacting processes and procedures that organizations use to implement policy and achieve objectives. In high hazard industries such as the oil and gas sector, these objectives are typically related to the management and reduction of operational risk. A management system includes the necessary organizational structures, resources, accountabilities, policies, and procedures to achieve that objective.

Investigation Points to Faulty Decisions in Fatal Black Elk Explosion, Fire

Source: Rigzone | 5 November 2013

The explosion and fire that killed three workers last year on a Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations-operated production platform resulted from the failure of Black Elk and contractors to follow Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) safety regulations.

BSEE released on 4 November the panel investigation report on the 16 November 2012 incident. Ellroy Corporal, Jerome Malagapo, and Avelino Tajonera were killed in the incident, which also resulted in serious injuries to others and the discharge of pollutants into the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

BSEE Director Brian Salerno said in a Nov. 4 press statement that the failures that resulted in the workers’ deaths “reflect a disregard for the safety of workers on the platform and are the antithesis of the type of safety culture that should guide decision-making in all offshore oil and gas operations.”

Agency Orders Corrective Measures for Tesoro in Wake of Oil Spill

Source: Inforum | 1 November 2013

A federal agency ordered Tesoro High Plains Pipeline on 31 October to take corrective action in the wake of a recent oil spill near Tioga, N.D.

The US Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration ordered the company to complete several short- and long-term improvements to protect people and the surrounding environment, according to a news release from the agency.

The order is the result of an investigation of the company’s High Plains Pipeline System, which leaked an estimated 20,600 bbl of crude oil in Williams County. The spill was discovered 29 September.

“Safety is our highest priority,” US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in the release. “Today’s Safety Order is an important step to protect the people and environment in this area and to strengthen the integrity of the pipeline so that something like this doesn’t happen again.”