Expanded use of automation and the changing makeup of the industrial workforce are resulting in new workplace safety challenges. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration holds that employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace. Regulations, standards, and common sense, then, dictate machine safeguarding methods and applications.
Following the Deepwater Horizon accident in April 2010, which led to the largest oil spill in US waters to date, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has strived to ensure the US outer continental shelf (OCS) never experiences a similar event.
In the years following the tragedy, the BSEE has launched numerous programs and regulations in a bid to increase safety on the OCS. Although some of these items were received better than others by the oil and gas industry, as evidenced by the sector’s lukewarm response to a proposed well-control rule in July last year, the organization’s unrelenting quest to improve offshore activity in the United States has undoubtedly changed the region for the better.
The BSEE revealed in its first ever annual report, released 5 May 2015, that fatalities on the OCS were at their lowest level for several years and that the total number of injuries recorded in the area had seen a gentle declining trend since 2007. The latest data showed that musters for evacuation on the OCS were also decreasing and that the number of fires/explosions in the region had reduced in four of the last 6 years.
Just last month, the BSEE launched its most recent safety program in an effort to improve its focus on offshore oil and gas facilities that exhibit a number of distinguishing risk factors. The pilot Risk-Based Inspection Program, which will complement the organization’s existing inspections and audits, will use a systematic approach relying on both a quantitative model and qualitative performance and risk-related data. BSEE will use performance and compliance data collected from annual inspection and Safety and Environmental Management Systems audits, as well as incident investigations and other reportable safety information, to help identify offshore production facilities with a higher risk profile.
In order to better understand the intricacies and implications of the BSEE’s latest safety program, Rigzone spoke to BSEE Director Brian Salerno.
The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has warned the oil and gas industry of a recurring problem with connector and bolt failures in various components used in risers and subsea blowout preventers used in offshore operations.
“These failures are of great concern to BSEE due to their frequency and the potential for a catastrophic event. A previous occurrence of bolt failures in December 2012 prompted a global recall of the bolts associated and a temporary cessation of drilling activities,” BSEE said in a safety alert on 2 February.
BSEE said that fact that these failures involved equipment from three primary manufacturers suggests that issue may be a systemic industry problem that requires immediate attention.
BOP Technologies, a Houston-based innovator for oil and gas blowout preventers (BOP) and well-intervention systems, has developed a new technology that allows a BOP to work even if the drilling rig loses power or hydraulic pressure.
This is a huge step toward truly making BOPs the last line of defense in case of a blowout, the company said. The danger has been that a blowout could damage hydraulic lines that power the BOP shear rams or the rig could lose power to the BOP.
BOP Technologies’ concept design places a backup system in the body of the BOP shear ram mechanism itself. If power or hydraulic pressure is lost, there would still be a way to safely cut and close off the well, protecting the crew and preventing oil from being released into the environment.
As you plan for 2016, be sure to review the changes made by the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to its Process Safety Management (PSM) of Highly Hazardous Chemicals (HHCs) standard in 2015. These changes may result in additional facilities and processes being subject to the PSM standard, and may require more rigorous management and documentation of recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices (RAGAGEP).
New Interpretation for Covered Concentrations of HHCs
As of June 2015, OSHA adopted a new policy on threshold calculations for mixtures of HHCs. Appendix A of the PSM standard lists 137 highly hazardous chemicals, including 11 with a listed minimum concentration. Each chemical has a listed threshold quantity, but, for the 126 chemicals with no listed concentration, there has long been confusion regarding what quantity to count toward thresholds.
Clarified RAGAGEP Enforcement Policy
OSHA’s June memo also clarified its enforcement policy for the PSM standard’s RAGAGEP requirements as outlined in 29 CFR 1910.119, (d)(3)(ii), (j)(4)(ii), and (j)(4)(iii). Since RAGAGEP is not defined in the standard, OSHA refers to the definition found in the Center for Chemical Process Safety Guidelines for Mechanical Integrity Systems.
New Interpretation for Retail Facility Exemption
The PSM standard includes an exemption from coverage for retail facilities but never defined what a “retail facility” was. In July 2015, OSHA issued a new interpretation, defining only those portions of a facility engaged in retail trade, as defined by the North American Industrial Classification System for Sectors 44 and 45, as eligible for the retail facility exemption. Employers claiming eligibility for the retail facility exemption should be prepared to provide justification of the basis for their exemption.
Aquatic Engineering & Construction, an Acteon company, has marked 1 million working hours without a single lost-time Incident (LTI). This milestone follows Aquatic’s achievement of 1,000 days without an LTI in December 2014.
David Tibbetts, vice president of technology for Aquatic and accountable for the health, safety, environment, and quality function, said, “This achievement is due to the commitment of the Aquatic team to maintain the culture of safety promoted globally by Acteon. Our staff training focuses on our obligation to the safety of all those who work with us, and for us. With the support of Acteon, Aquatic is focused on continually improving standards, strengthening its culture of safety and remaining firmly committed to HSEQ leadership in the offshore industry.”
Aquatic is an independent operator of modular carousels, reel-drive systems, and tensioners for the global oil and gas, telecommunications, and energy industries.
We use many different terms to describe common risk-management concepts. For example, risk, threat, hazard, and in insurance peril are all used interchangeably; but, this often causes significant confusion.
To manage this, some countries and organizations have attempted to develop standards for the purpose of defining a common risk-management language. Examples of such standards include the Australian/New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS 4360:1995). Other countries such as the UK, Canada, and South Africa have also developed similar standards. Some leading risk-management organizations have also developed standards. This includes the Association of Insurance and Risk Managers, Alarm, the Institute of Risk Management, and the International Standardization Organization.
It is worth noting that often people identify risk in a negative light, equating it with threat to some goal or objective. However, business is built upon risk and without it there would be no possibility to make profit—which is commonly recognized as a reward for taking a risk.
The UK’s independent regulator for work-related health, safety, and illness, The Health and Safety Executive, released on 23 September its Annual Offshore Statistics & Regulatory Activity Report 2014/2015, which outlined the current state of the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry.
Around 332 installations were operating within the United Kingdom continental shelf (UKCS) in 2014/2015, of which, 236 were production installations. More than 5.5 million days were spent offshore during this period, and HSE estimates that there was an offshore population of 33,664 full-time-equivalent workers.
HSE’s report indicates that there was one fatality on the UKCS in 2014/15 as a result of a fall from height, which is the same number as 2013/14 and an improvement from 2011/12. Over the last 10 years, there have been a total of just eight fatalities in the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry, despite the millions of registered worker days. Sixteen specified injuries (SI), a classification that includes incidents such as fractures, burns, and sight impairments, were reported during 2014/15, although this figure cannot be reliably compared to previous years because of a change in classification in October 2013 from major injuries (MI) to a shorter list of SI. During 2013/2014, 37 major/specified injuries were registered.
Safety leadership professionals who are part of organizations with access to ready finance, and perhaps even unlimited resources at their disposal to realize their vision of an improved workplace safety culture, are a rare breed. It would be great, would it not, if we all had the time, we all had the committed management teams, and we all had access to the necessary tools, and materials to make our vision a reality. The burden of safety leadership would then be shared equally around the organization, exactly where it should be. However, for the majority of safety leadership professionals, regardless of the industry or country they work in, it is usually the exact opposite.
For those of us who are not lucky enough to be in the position of having everything at our disposal, bearing the burden of safety leadership, particularly within the middle to lower echelons of the organization, is incredibly difficult. Indeed, having to lead by example all the time, across all points of the organizational compass, within the various departments, mediating between management and shop floor, and, of course, having to navigate through the shenanigans of office politics on a daily basis can sometimes be soul destroying.
Therefore, what options are open to us as safety leadership professionals in this situation? Do we see this as a challenge and redouble our efforts, or do we capitulate and say enough is enough and walk away? Both of these decisions are never taken lightly and may certainly require some serious soul-searching before the final decision is made. Nevertheless, whether we stay or move to another company, the challenge remains the same: How do I, as a safety leadership professional, improve the workplace safety culture of my organization?
Safe, responsible energy development in the Gulf of Mexico and beyond is vital to the US economy and job growth, as well as US energy and national security. Joint efforts from the oil and natural gas industry and federal government have made great strides to enhance the safety of offshore operations in the half decade since the Deepwater Horizon accident.
Industry is committed to safe offshore operations and has worked tirelessly over the past 5 years to improve offshore energy development. A comprehensive review after the 2010 spill has led to better spill prevention, subsea containment, and response capabilities. More than 100 exploration and production industry standards were strengthened or enhanced, including for well design, blowout prevention, maintenance, repair, and spill response. The industry also created new capabilities for rapid deployment of subsea well containment technology.
Advancements in video technology are increasing the level of safety in the oil and gas industry, according to Adrian Fielding, senior manager for industrial security solutions at Honeywell Process Solutions.
Speaking at an annual meeting for Honeywell users in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa being held in Madrid, Fielding suggested such advancements reduce the level of risk to the workforce by allowing staff to control field environments from safe, centralized locations. He also claimed that this technology can increase the level of consistency in upstream operations.
“The advancements in video technology and the ability to communicate that seamlessly back to a centralized control room means we can have efficiencies of the workforce in the field by putting eyes in the field, without the guys,” he said.