Offshore Energy Today | 17 March 2016

Oil & Gas UK Backs Move To Boost Helicopter Flights Safety after Sumburgh Crash Report

Oil & Gas UK, a representative body for the UK’s oil and gas industry, has responded to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report into the Sumburgh offshore helicopter accident from 2013 by supporting the move to enhance the safety of offshore helicopter flights.

In August 2013, an AS332 L2 Super Puma helicopter with 16 passengers and two crew on board crashed in the UK North Sea. Four of the passengers did not survive.

According to the findings published on 15 March by AAIB, upon being cleared to land to Sumbrugh airport, the airspeed of the helicopter started to drop steadily, unobserved by either the pilot or copilot, allowing the helicopter to enter a critically low energy state, from which recovery was not possible, and the helicopter crashed in the water.

Offshore Energy Today | 15 March 2016

PSA Finds Flaws in Transocean Arctic Emergency Preparedness

Transocean’s semi-submersible rig Transocean Arctic does not meet all the requirements when it comes to the management of emergency preparedness and the working environment, the Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) said after it carried out an inspection of the rig from 7 to 10 December 2015.

Transocean Arctic. Image from Det norske.

The objective of the audit of emergency preparedness was to monitor that Transocean has worked systematically to prevent major accidents and that the facility’s emergency preparedness organization, equipment, and systems are properly fulfilling emergency preparedness functions during winter operations.

The safety authority added that the objective within the working environment domain was to assess whether Transocean’s systems and practice for following up working environment risk during activity in a cold climate met the regulatory requirements.

The Transocean Arctic had shortcomings that were related to at-risk groups, follow-up of measures, training, and composition of the emergency preparedness organization and fire stations among others.

IWCF | 7 March 2016

IWCF Launches Free Training for Basic Well-Control Awareness

The International Well Control Forum (IWCF) has launched a global online training course that will be free to everyone in the industry to increase knowledge around drilling and well-intervention operations as well as what can cause a well blowout and potential oil spill.

The interactive e-learning has been developed in response to the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers recommendations following the Macondo well blowout that stated an introductory Level 1 awareness training should be introduced. IWCF is the first organization to achieve this and is offering the course free through its website, supporting the organization’s aim to increase competency and change behavior in this safety-critical operation.

IWCF already offers the higher Levels, 2, 3 and 4, which are targeted specifically at those involved with well and drilling operations, whereas the new Level 1 training is designed to be accessible by everyone with an interest in the industry.

David Price, chief executive officer of IWCF, said, “It is important to us, particularly in the current climate within the industry, to give something back, and, by making this training readily available, we believe that it will help to increase understanding of how well-control events can occur and their consequences and prevention.

“The training is open to everyone. It is specifically aimed at those in the industry with a secondary involvement in well operations, but students considering a career in oil and gas or anyone else with an interest in the industry will also find it insightful. Ultimately, we want to see an increase in well competency, which will improve offshore safety.”

EHS Today | 1 March 2016

Safety Governance Inside the Boardroom: The Role of Senior Executives and Board Directors in Safety Leadership

The conviction of former Massey Energy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Don Blankenship in relation to the deaths of 29 miners killed at work in West Virginia in 2010 is a critical reminder of the important role that the most senior executives in a business play in safety governance and safety leadership. In many countries, such prosecutions are commonplace, with legislation clearly placing responsibility for worker safety in the hands of senior executives and boards.

The conviction of Blankenship will be a reminder to all CEOs, presidents, and boards in every industry that it is essential that effectively leading health and safety performance is not only a moral imperative but brings with it significant legal and financial consequences for failure to do so.

Frequently, safety leadership research focuses on the behaviors and attitudes of managers and supervisors directly working with employees in the field. Yet recent tragedies—such as the Massey explosion in West Virginia or the Pike River Coal Mine tragedy in New Zealand—highlight how the most senior leaders of an organization did not provide effective safety leadership but instead were distracted by financial and production pressures.

Recent research now has identified four criteria of safety leadership specifically applicable to this important group of senior leaders—vision, personal commitment, decision-making, and transparency. In addition, the concept of safety governance has been defined in order to clarify the vital role that senior executives and board members play in working to improve the safety outcomes of an organization.

Lloyd's Register Energy | 1 March 2016

JIP To Investigate How To Reduce Explosion and Fire Risks From Hydrocarbon Leaks in Gas Turbines.

Companies and universities across the world are collaborating in an initiative to improve awareness on how to optimize safety design of gas turbines used in facilities processing combustible fluids, helping operators achieve greater safety, integrity, and risk management.

On 1 March, Lloyd’s Register Consulting launched the first phase of its latest JIP aimed at resolving a long-term industry issue that could save the industry billions of dollars in costly downtime, injury claims, and damage to the environment.

“Ignition of hydrocarbon leaks in gas turbines is a critical issue for oil and gas operators,” said Ingar Fossan from the consulting business of Lloyd’s Register. “Findings from this JIP will lead to safer design of new installations, reduction in risk of future incidents on existing infrastructure, leading to tangible cost reduction.”

Onshore and offshore installations contain dedicated turbine and power generation facilities that produce energy to run the installation’s various processes. The turbine enclosures and generator rooms are high-risk areas because of the combination of very high temperatures, moving parts, fuel, and lubricants.

Flammable gas included in the intake air of a gas turbine is a widely known and potential source of ignition. However, the residual risk is still not adequately understood. More detailed understanding of the potential ignition mechanism is required to find the best possible way to design the ignition control parameters for gas turbine equipment. It is based on the main conclusion from the Modeling of Ignition Sources on Offshore Oil and gas Facilities (MISOF) report issued by Lloyd’s Register on behalf of the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association.

SHP | 25 February 2016

Column: The Changing Role of Health and Safety Professionals

Some would argue that if we, as health and safety professionals, had done our job thoroughly—that of managing health and safety—then we would be obsolete by now. Perhaps they are right.

If workplaces really mainstreamed health and safety into everything—from concept to manufacture to delivery—if they really built health, safety and wellness into their planning, their choice of work equipment, their work practices, then perhaps we would no longer have a role in the world of work.  The reality is, however, that there are as many problems now (in 2016) as there were when health and safety started back in the 1800s; it’s just that the problems are different. So, as a profession we have had to change and this challenge will continue. | 24 February 2016

OSHA Regulations Seek To Prevent Large-Scale Industrial Tragedies

Too often, better regulation of businesses and industries only occurs following potentially preventable tragedies, with highly hazardous chemicals (HHC) being a prime example. Few knew of Bhopal, India, until deadly methyl isocyanate gas escaped from a chemical plant and spread airborne, killing thousands. Even with today’s safeguards, five chemical incidents each day are reported.

The recent Tianjin port explosion is a showcase of what can go wrong if safety regulations aren’t enforced. (AP Photo)

Prompted primarily by Bhopal, more than2 decades ago, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) issued unprecedented regulations for process safety management (PSM) of HHCs. Although this standard focuses only on high-risk releases, it cuts across the business spectrum because chemicals are so widely used.

Spelling Out PSM
As could be expected, significant OSHA regulations (such as PSM) are lengthy and complex, but an overview is a good jump-start for compliance. For openers, PSM-compliant process refers to any activity involving using, storing, manufacturing, handling, or moving such chemicals at the site. At “covered” companies, this specifically includes ones dealing with 130 plus toxic and reactive chemicals, as well as flammable liquids and gases in quantities of at least 10,000 pounds.

Robert Gordon University | 15 February 2016

Researchers Size Up North Sea Offshore Workers’ Helicopter Escape Potential

Research on the size and shape of the North Sea offshore workforce has revealed that some UK workers are larger than average American males and take up more space than earlier data had indicated.

PhD student P.J. Barron, Research Fellow Clinton Njoku, and Arthur Stewart look through a model of the helicopter window used to check if people can pass through the space.

From left, RGU PhD student P.J. Barron, Research Fellow Clinton Njoku, and faculty member Arthur Stewart look through a model of the helicopter window used to check if people can pass through the space.

Charting their body dimensions has also cast valuable light on their ability to escape through a helicopter window. Bigger individuals are less likely to be able to do so than smaller individuals, but the study has shown that size isn’t everything.

The new findings from a joint research project into the size and shape of North Sea offshore workers by Robert Gordon University (RGU) and Oil & Gas UK in Aberdeen have been published in an academic journal following the completion of their high-tech study in 2015.

Using portable 3D scanning technology, the team measured 588 male offshore workers and extracted a total of 26 measures, including shoulder width, chest girth, neck girth, and a series of volumetric measurements of the arm, leg, and torso.

Measuring workers in different standing and sitting postures and in form-fitting shorts as well as full survival suits, the research is the most comprehensive study ever carried out to date.

The measurement data—which will be available under license from Oil & Gas UK—have informed the team’s focus on offshore worker’s body dimensions and their ability to pass in a confined space and through a window frame representing the smallest acceptable exit window size on a helicopter.

Arthur Stewart from RGU’s faculty of Health and Social Care and Knowledge Transfer Partner associate Robert Ledingham worked with senior business analyst Moira Lamb and medical advisor Graham Furnace from Oil & Gas UK during the 2-year study.

It was prompted by industry recognition that existing size information on offshore workers was out-of-date, and, although the workforce was heavier, how that had affected their shape and space requirements was unknown.

The latest findings have been published in two academic papers in acclaimed journal Applied Ergonomics, which also include significant contributions from Professor Alan Nevill from the University of Wolverhampton and Natasha Schranz from the University of South Australia.

Using the measurement data the team has developed a prediction model of workers passing a simulated helicopter window egress, based on dimensions extracted from 3D scans of 404 individuals.

The frame size selected for the study was 432×356 mm and represents the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) minimum acceptable size for an escape window on a helicopter.

Stewart said, “Those who fail the window-egress test are probably bigger in any single dimension than those who pass, but that probability is not 100%; it is between 70 and 80%.

“It seems that a few very large individuals can escape through this small aperture, and we should perhaps focus on trying to predict why some smaller individuals can’t.”

While larger individuals were less likely to escape through the window, the most accurate predictive test of whether a person would pass or fail would require 30 measurements.

However, using individual measurements or combinations of two or three together such as body weight, shoulder breadth, and chest depth is nearly as accurate. Crucially, many of these can be measured manually without the need for 3D body scanning.

Stewart said, “These findings show us for the first time the extra value of combining individual measurements and the limitations of an approach which treats the body as a rigid shell in predicting window egress.

“In terms of allocating seats on helicopters, our study highlights a range of possible measurements which could be used to identify larger individuals who should be seated adjacent to larger windows.

“Although bideltoid (shoulder) breadth may be outperformed by other measurements, it is unquestionably the most practical and reliable to measure and less affected by breathing artifacts than others we could have chosen.

“Short of assessing all 62,000 offshore workers in the North Sea by scanning or require them to do window egress trials of actual windows on helicopters, all of which are larger than the CAA minimum, we hope to augment the study with future work which will examine spine and shoulder flexibility.”

Les Linklater, executive director of Step Change in Safety, said, “Working with RGU was vital to ensure the success of Step Change in Safety’s passenger size project and the safety of the offshore workforce.

“By defining a simple, sustainable measurement criteria and together developing the Train the Trainer methodology, the industry was able to meet the deadline and avoid costs of GBP 14 million.”

In a further study, the team also modelled the risk of workers failing to pass one another in restricted space corridors, based on measured shoulder breadth and chest depth measurements in 210 individuals, in comparison to other data from national databases.

Depending on the corridor width of the restricted space, the study estimates they are between 28% and 34% less likely to be able to pass one another than typical UK males.

Stewart said: “Male offshore workers are bigger than we might have anticipated. Comparing our data with other national databases, they are bigger not only than UK civilians as a whole, but also Americans, who are considered to be the largest nation worldwide.

“While it has been previously known that protective service workers, such as firefighters, may be bigger than their host populations, offshore workers have never been reported in this way before.

“Larger individuals have increased space requirements which can compromise their ability to pass one another in a restricted width, and this is exacerbated when they wear the personal protective equipment required offshore.

“This has important implications in restricted space settings, particularly in terms of safety and as decommissioning starts to appear more likely in the North Sea.”

Mick Borwell, health and safety director with Oil & Gas UK, added: “Many offshore facilities were designed more than 40 years ago based on size information of offshore workers available at that time and which we now know to be very different today.

“The findings from the research will be invaluable to those designing future offshore safety equipment, survival clothing, and space and accommodation requirements offshore.”

ProAct Safety | 11 February 2016

Video: Achieving F.A.S.T. Safety Performance Impact

Plant Services | 9 February 2016

How To Make Safety Automatic

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.

Rigzone | 4 February 2016

Q&A: The BSEE’s Latest OCS Safety Program Initiative

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.

Brian Salerno, Director, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement

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.

Offshore Energy Today | 4 February 2016

BSEE Warns Offshore Industry of Potentially “Catastrophic” Bolt Failures

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.

BSEE warns offshore industry of bolt failures.

“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.