In the wake of the Macondo disaster, there has been a lot of discussion about safety and how the oil and gas industry needs to accomplish something the US commercial airline industry has achieved for the past 3 years: zero fatalities. To assist in this goal, the San Joaquin Valley SPE YP Chapter brought in a risk advisor to discuss how to incorporate more layers of protection in the planning stage and how to follow up on a project after it has been implemented.
It was an interesting session where YPs were made aware of how appropriate safeguards should be incorporated in a project during the design phase by following the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration risk assessment matrix, or the company’s own matrix. Unfortunately, that is not enough. The oil industry is constantly changing and to accommodate these changes “field modifications” are often made at every level to accelerate the accomplishment of a project. These modifications are not always evaluated properly for the hazards they may expose to personnel. It is important that all projects and process changes are properly evaluated for hazards and operational impact so that the incident rates of the oil and gas industry can rival those of the airline industry.