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Who Is Watching Oil Pipeline Safety in the United States?

Source: OilPrice.com | 1 November 2013

North Dakota’s governor said he was frustrated with the way in which federal regulators were monitoring pipeline safety. An oil spill in the west of the state went unnoticed until a farmer discovered it in his field last month. Regulators, the governor said, don’t monitor rural areas the same way they do elsewhere. On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, supporters of a controversial pipeline bill say more infrastructure is needed and fast in order to keep up with the oil boom under way in the central United States. That measure, however, does little to allay the safety concerns about the spider web of oil and natural gas pipelines already in place across the country.

“[The federal] Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration requires the use of enhanced pipeline monitoring and control technology in locations considered ‘high-consequence areas’ such as cities and near drinking water supplies,” North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said. “Rural areas don’t necessarily get the same level of oversight from PHMSA and that is concerning.”

Column: Hard Times for Culture Change

Source: The PSM Report | 30 October 2013

There has been much discussion in recent years as to how to develop new and improved cultures within the process industries. There appears to be an implicit assumption in these discussions that ours is the first generation to wrestle with the problem of creating a new culture. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, it can be instructive to examine how previous generations affected cultural change with respect to industrial safety and environmental performance and to consider how their techniques and approaches may apply to our times.

For example, those working in the process industries now take it for granted that safety matters, even when their own organization has a poor safety record or management is merely paying lip service. No one ever says, “Safety doesn’t matter.” However, such an attitude was not the norm 200 years ago. A culture change was needed. And that change was achieved, at least in part, through use of a weapon that is rarely used now by process safety professionals: satire. And the master of the genre was Charles Dickens (1812-1870).

Dresser-Rand Named One of America’s Safest Companies

Source: Dresser-Rand | 28 October 2013

Dresser-Rand was recently selected as one of America’s Safest Companies by EHS Today magazine and a winner of the 2013 Southwest Oil & Gas Award. Both awards featured several of Dresser-Rand’s health, safety, and environmental programs and initiatives.

Dresser-Rand is a global supplier of rotating equipment solutions to the oil, gas, petrochemical, power, and process industries.

“Safety is a critical, core value for us,” said Vincent R. Volpe Jr., Dresser-Rand’s president and chief executive officer. “These awards reaffirm our company’s commitment to providing an environment in which we as employees may create a culture of ethics, caring, and respect for one another. We are honored to have received these awards and proud of the underlying efforts that take place daily as we strive for safety, health, and the well-being of our environment.”

Of 100 applications this year, EHS Today selected 16 companies that provide a safe working environment for thousands of employees and serve as a reference point for companies hoping to achieve world-class safety status. Winners will be recognized at an awards ceremony on 29 October in Atlanta, Georgia.

To be considered one of America’s Safest Companies, companies must demonstrate transformational health, safety, and environment leadership in the form of support from management and employee involvement; innovative solutions to safety challenges; injury and illness rates significantly lower than the average for their industries; comprehensive training programs; evidence that prevention of incidents is the cornerstone of the safety process; excellent communication internally and externally about the value of safety; and a way to substantiate the benefits of the safety process.

Dresser-Rand was also selected as the winner of the 2013 Southwest Oil & Gas Health and Safety Award. The Oil & Gas Awards celebrate the positive contributions made by upstream and midstream sector companies of the oil and gas industry in the areas of health and safety, environmental stewardship, and corporate responsibility. The judges of the 2013 Oil & Gas Awards reviewed more than 400 entries and selected 67 finalists. Dresser-Rand was one of four finalists in health and safety.

Winners were announced at the inaugural 2013 Southwest Oil & Gas Awards gala dinner at the Taste of Texas Ballroom, Sheraton Hotel and Spa in Fort Worth, Texas, on 22 October.

“We recognize that we cannot achieve a zero-injury culture without becoming operationally excellent,” said Peter Salvatore, Dresser-Rand’s vice president and chief safety officer. “Safety discussions of at-risk behaviors and conditions are a primary rallying point in discussions with our employees. Our ultimate goal is to eliminate workplace injuries through disciplined processes, execution and employee empowerment.”

Earlier this year, Dresser-Rand was also recognized by the National Safety Council for an Occupational Excellence Achievement Award, as well as an award for multiple Dresser-Rand locations that demonstrated exceptional safety performance in the workplace.

Column: Bridging the Generation Gap—How To Obtain Millennial Buy-In For Your Safety Program

Source: White Knight Blog | 25 October 2013

Misconceptions about the millennial workforce is one of The Contributing Factors to Incidents

Like any great safety professional, you are keen to involve all of your staff in your safety program. Lately, however, you have noticed an interesting trend. A younger workforce is slowly starting to emerge and it is not uncommon now to see younger people in middle-management positions. These young people are considered Millenials. Who are these Millennials, and why is there so much talk about them? They are the generation that will shape and define your company’s safety direction for the foreseeable future. I believe that, without their buy-in, you will not be able to have a successful safety program at your company.

New Offshore Energy Regulator Warns “Risk Does Not Discriminate”

Source: Fuel Fix | 25 October 2013
Brian Salerno, then-deputy commandant for operations for the U.S. Coast Guard, testifies during a hearing before a House subcommittee in Washington, D.C. in April 2012. Salerno now is the head of the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. (Petty Officer 2nd Class Etta Smith/U.S. Coast Guard)

Brian Salerno
(Petty Officer 2nd Class Etta Smith/US Coast Guard)

Three years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster and 25 years after an explosion killed 167 people on the Piper Alpha platform in the North Sea, offshore oil workers and their overseers must guard against complacency, the top US offshore drilling regulator insisted on 22 October.

In his inaugural speech as head of the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Brian Salerno said the challenge is remaining vigilant as those episodes fade into the distance.

“With any highly visible disaster that garners international media attention, there comes a point when the cameras turn off, the stories fade into distant memories, and people believe the problems have been fixed, and their focus shifts,” Salerno told health and safety regulators representing eight countries at a forum in Perth, Australia.

But a series of incidents in shallow Gulf waters over the past year—including a lethal explosion during maintenance work on a production platform—illustrate “the inherent risks associated with all offshore activities,” Salerno said.

“These tragic incidents … are a clear reminder that risk does not discriminate. It is not isolated to highly technical, deepwater operations or high-temperature and high-pressure reservoirs, or any other type of new, frontier area,” Salerno said. “Risk is ever-present, across all operations.”

Column: Black Swans and Bow Ties

Source: The PSM Report | 16 October 2013

Black Swans

Published in 2007, Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book The Black Swan achieved almost overnight fame (a circumstance that is, in itself, something of a black swan). He defined a black swan event as having the following attributes.

  • It is unpredictable;
  • It has a massive impact; and
  • After the fact, we develop explanations to make the event appear less random, and more predictable, than it was.

(It should be noted that a black swan is not the same as bad luck—it does not justify lack of effort in reducing risk nor does it justify fatalism; it merely states that, no matter how good our risk management programs may be, bad events will occur.)

His book was written about financial markets, but its concepts can be applied to almost any type of system, including process facilities. For example, the three parameters listed above apply almost perfectly to the Deepwater Horizon/Macondo event: It was a surprise; its impact on the offshore oil and gas industry was profound; and, by now, pretty much everyone can explain what happened, thus removing the element of surprise from their thinking. We have all become experts.

Bow Ties

Bow Tie analysis has gained widespread recognition in recent years as a means of identifying and then controlling hazardous events. On the left side of the bow tie diagram are the events or threats that could create an unsafe condition. A series of barriers or control measures are provided to reduce the likelihood of the event occurring. On the right side of the diagram are the barriers that reduce the severity of the event’s impact should the worst happen. (Basically, a bow time diagram is a fault tree followed by an event tree.)

Most process safety work tends to take place on the left side of the diagram (i.e., identifying how a hazardous event could occur and then putting in place barriers to prevent that occurrence). However, if it is accepted that black swan events will occur, then more attention should be given to the right hand side of the diagram.

Column: Be a Safety Zombie—Or Make a Change To Survive

Source: ISQEM | 14 October 2014

If you still believe the role of a safety practitioner is all about setting up management systems, conducting training, and monitoring compliance, think again. No longer can safety practitioners fall back on regulations or industry norms as justification for their present roles.

Organizations around the world cannot always afford to pay for standalone specialism. If safety people want to continue to work in the long-term, they must change and become business focused or they may not survive.

Many businesses are now facing a need for urgent change, and the roles of individuals are being closely looked at. No one wants to continue to spend money on a resource that they see as a financial drain and not adding visible or quantifiable returns on investment.

People are now expected to be multiskilled and able to adapt to different roles. Can we, with any confidence, stand up and say as safety practitioners that we have adapted to the challenges of future change? Or, are we just walking around like zombies waiting for all to end with no future chance of resurrection?

What Is a Safety Case Regime?

Source: Digital Energy Journal | 14 October 2013

Professor Andrew Hopkins, professor of sociology with Australian National University, explained what a safety case regime is with offshore, how to make it work, and how safety cases can be improved

Safety cases are a critical tool in managing and improving safety, said Hopkins, who is consultant to the US Chemical Safety Board on its investigation into both the Texas City disaster and Macondo.

The trouble is that they are not well understood, he said.

Hopkins was speaking at the Aberdeen event in June ”Piper 25” to mark the 25th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster.

After Macondo, the US presidential commission recommended that a safety case regime be introduced in US offshore waters, modeled on the UK regime, he said.

“Very little headway has been made,” he said. “There is a general inertia, a lot of vested interests in the status quo.”

“There is also a widespread misunderstanding of what safety case regime involves, a widespread feeling that it amounts to deregulation. If you think that, you will be wary of this idea.”

The important features of a safety case regime, are that (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.

OSHA Forms Alliance To Promote Safety and Health in the Oil and Gas Industry

Source: OSHA | 14 October 2013

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in Dallas has signed a regionwide alliance with the Association of Energy Service Companies (AESC) to develop a collaborative relationship aimed at protecting workers in the oil and gas well industry. The goal is to promote understanding of workplace safety and health and the rights and the responsibilities of workers and employers by increasing access to material and knowledge.

“We welcome the opportunity to join with the AESC to champion proactive ideas in an effort to eliminate hazards and protect workers in the oil and gas well industry,” said Eric Harbin, OSHA’s deputy regional administrator in Dallas. “OSHA’s relationship with AESC will pioneer new ideas and best practices to help make this industry as safe and healthful as possible.”

Along with its member companies, AESC will work closely with OSHA to build upon existing training and outreach as well as workplace health and safety goals.


Shipping Oil Has Never Been Safer

Source: The Vancouver Sun | 9 October 2013

As British Columbians continue to debate energy development and transportation proposals to allow Canada to ship oil exports to new markets, questions are being asked of safety in the marine sector and of the ability to deal with an oil spill in the unlikely event of such an occurrence.

Shipping oil in and out of British Columbia is nothing new. Oil has been uneventfully moved on the coast of British Columbia for the past 100 years. For most of that time, the technologies of precision navigation that are today compulsory equipment on the bridge of a ship simply did not exist.

But what of the Exxon Valdez? – argue some critics.

The marine industry can reasonably claim to have learned the lessons of Exxon Valdez. In fact, had the Exxon Valdez been built to construction standards first introduced in the 1990s, not a drop of oil would have been spilled in that incident.

Opito Reveals Finalists for 2013 Global Oil and Gas Safety Awards

Source: Opito | 7 October 2013

The short list of six finalists for Opito’s annual global oil and gas workforce safety awards has been announced.

SBM, Stork Technical Services, and Total ABK Academy are vying for the Employer of the Year title while IFAP, MSTS/Falck Safety Services Malaysia, and PT Samson Tiara have made the final three in the Training Providers category of the awards.

The awards recognize companies that best demonstrate their commitment to building a safe and competent workforce through Opito standards.

Winners will be announced at the Opito Safety and Competency Conference (OSCC) in the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel, Abu Dhabi, on 19 November. This global annual event, now in its fourth year, is supported by headline sponsor Shell as well as IHRDC, SEFtec, Atlas, and Gulf Technical & Safety Training Centre.

SBM has adopted Opito principles in its operations and training efforts and is committed to achieving continuous safety performance improvement. The majority of the company’s 1,700 offshore personnel are trained to Opito survival standards, and the courses are mainstays of SBM’s survival requirements. More than 51 offshore installation managers and deputies passed the Controlling Emergencies coaching and assessment during 2012.

Total ABK Academy aims to train Emiratis to work proficiently and safely as technicians in the oil and gas industry. Opito standards have been adopted because of their internationally recognized brand, and their integration has helped to establish a strong culture of safety at Total ABK Academy. During the past 12 months, more than 70 students and staff members were trained in the Emirates Technical and Safety Development Centre, the first Opito-accredited training center in the Middle East.

Central to the aim of Stork Technical Services is the development of a sustainable, skilled, and competent workforce. The company has introduced a training program for newcomers to the oil and gas industry and has also worked closely with Opito on a training program for former members of the armed forces. In total, Stork has assessed more than 1,079 people as part of its competency management system.

PT Samson Tiara became the first Opito-approved training provider in Indonesia during 2004. The organization’s mission is to drive the growth and adoption of the Opito standards across the country. PT Samson Tiara has helped more than 2,000 companies to train 17,000 people to Opito standards. In the past year, more than 50 members of PT Samson Tiara’s own staff have been involved in the provision of Opito training over two training centers.

Within the past 12 months, IFAP has trained new staff members in the Opito course staff development plan. Progression through IFAP’s career pathway is based on attainment of Opito competencies and a demonstrated capacity to consistently deliver courses that meet or exceed IFAP’s quality standards. New staff members are paired with an experienced staff member who has attained Opito course competencies to mentor them throughout their initial training program.

MSTS/Falck Safety Services Malaysia uses Train the Trainer and Opito Competency Assessor courses as part of its induction program. All of MSTS/Falck Safety Services Malaysia’s 20 Opito-approved standards are included in their internal training matrix, with all 30 trainers involved in the program. A continual development program ensures all trainers remain competent and are briefed with any changes introduced by Opito.

The OSCC was introduced in 2009 as a way to bring operators, contractors, and the supply chain together with training organizations to provide a forum for improving standards of safety and competency that protect the workforce and the industry’s reputation.

Upward of 300 delegates from around the world are expected to attend the event, which will explore how a global approach to training standards, frameworks, qualifications, and quality assurance of the training supply network add value for employers. It will also examine what these procedures mean for individuals in the workplace.

Column: Why Your Crew Sleeps Through Your Morning Safety Meetings

Source: White Knight | 27 September 2013

Every day, there are thousands of early morning safety meetings. It has become a ritual that is hard-wired into our day to day activities. A safety adviser or consultant often leads or is responsible for parts of a safety meeting. At times, however, safety meetings are led by management because many large producers require this of their subcontractors. An unfortunate outcome of these meetings being so expected, is that many of the crew tune out and have fine tuned a practiced look of casual interest in whomever is speaking.

If we take a hard look at the reasons for this disinterest, we quickly land on the manner in which the meeting is being managed. If you don’t experience this with your safety meetings, perhaps you have already dealt with some of the issues I will outline. However, if you find yourself still struggling with participation, interaction and enthusiasm for your meetings, then read on.