Safety Management Systems | Oil and Gas Industry
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Introducing Connected Resilience ™
Very few industries endure the same level of sustained risk to personnel and assets as oil and gas. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, derrick operators have the third highest fatality rate of any employment category — 46 per 100,000 workers — and these stats may be underreported.¹ A study by Southerly Magazine noted that “nearly half of known offshore worker fatalities in the Gulf of Mexico from 2005 to 2019 didn’t fit BSEE’s [Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement] reporting criteria.”²
In both onshore and offshore oil and gas contexts, there are constant threats from natural, human and mechanical risks. The operational conditions and the end products (hydrocarbons and other compounds) both pose threats to human life. Although contact with mechanical equipment and transportation incidents are the most common causes of injury,³ isolated incidents and large scale disasters need to be taken into account and mitigation strategies put in place.
Here, we are going to look at how technology is transforming access to information, and the ways in which this is reshaping how oil and gas safety & security management can and should be undertaken. Organisations that use real-time data and systems, connected from board-level to critical sites, can increase resilience and improve their management and response to risks related to their people and assets — an outcome and strategy we call Connected ResilienceTM. Let’s explain in detail.
Oil and gas production safety risks that need solutions
An effective safety management system needs to span upstream (discovery and production), midstream (transportation and storage) and downstream (refining and sale) operations. There are various critical hazards to consider across each stage, all of which come with their own set of specific threats. Let’s take a look at each in a little more detail:
- Vehicle incidents: The transportation of workers is essential in oil and gas, with sites often located in remote or hazardous locations. Vehicle crashes are amongst the leading causes of facilitates in the industry, making a focus on worker safety in transit critical.
- Leaks, Fires and explosions: The leaking of oil and flammable gases creates a severe risk to employee wellbeing. In oil and gas, this is increased by ignition sources, such as open flames, welding tools and lighting, which make fires and explosions a real possibility.
- Terrorism/crime: The threat of criminal and sometimes even terrorist attacks is very real within oil and gas. In the past, terrorist groups have targeted infrastructure across the globe in order to disrupt supplies of energy.
- Natural disasters: Oil and gas workers and machinery are often highly exposed to the elements — particularly off-shore oil rigs. In the event of a hurricane, earthquake, or even just inclement weather, steps need to be taken to reduce risk to life and capital damage.
- Accidents on-site: Oil and gas workers are required to work with specialised tools and potentially hazardous equipment on a daily basis. This includes drills, compressors, top drives, and conveyors, all of which can cause serious incidents and injuries.
Each of these present threats to both individual well being and operational integrity. An effective safety management system needs to mitigate big-picture hazards, such as weather, fires, gas leaks or terrorist incidents, and enable granular control. Further, it needs to take into account crisis management and day-to-day operational safety in order to ensure positive outcomes. There are four critical elements to consider:
- Visibility: General operational safety and incident response requires access to site and personnel information. This includes POB (person on board) information, but also equipment reports, location and weather updates, risk incidents, travel itineraries, last mile movements of people and assets, known hazards, and exposure experienced by different individuals and equipment.
- Risk mitigation: Your ongoing operations need to be designed to reduce harm and the chance of an incident. That means health and safety training and diligent planning regarding onsite exposure to risk supported by up to date information about where teams are located.
- Incident planning: If an incident occurs, you need to be prepared. That means muster points, evacuation and response plans, all supported by safety equipment (e.g. fire doors, alarms, decontamination facilities, etc.).
- Rapid communication: In order to respond to a crisis and help prevent one, you need the ability to communicate with all relevant parties on an immediate basis. That includes strategic communication (e.g. simple access to existing safety and incident planning material) and point-in-time communication able to rapidly update relevant individuals about threats and the need to execute a response.
All four of these outcomes need to be facilitated on a strategic and tactical level. That means access to big picture information able to inform long-term planning, as well as real-time access to information that can inform granular decision-making on an ongoing basis and in the face of a crisis.
How new technology impacts best practice
In general, safety in the oil and gas industry has improved. Most of the industry’s worst crises occurred prior to 1990, with notable exceptions such as the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 and the Mumbai High North incident in 2005.⁴
Data reported by IOGP (International Associate of Oil and Gas Producers) members shows that there was less than one injury per one-million hours worked in 2019 — down from a high of nearly twenty in 1986.⁵ Of course, the number of hours worked has more than quadrupled during that same period, so the total number of incidents remains concerning.
More diligent safety standards and process improvements have contributed to better conditions. However, oil and gas technology trends have generated solutions that weren’t previously possible, including:
- Advanced warning: Weather reporting, seismic surveys and sensors, and GNSS/GPS-based shipping visibility have all dramatically improved over the last twenty years. As a result, oil and gas crews are able to avoid many of the triggers that have generated the worst disasters of the past.
- POB sophistication: Tracking systems can ensure up to date information about everyone onsite, down to specific locations — even partnered with advanced 3D modelling solutions like digital twins. This enables faster response and more control over the volume of exposure to risk.
- Equipment monitoring: Advances such as IoT (Internet of Things) have transformed preventative maintenance, enabling real-time monitoring of equipment and actions that minimise failure.
- Automated safety: Sensor-based safety equipment such as fire doors, automated valve shutoffs, self-sealing pipes and more are able to reduce initial response times from minutes to less than a second — minimising the number of failures that turn into a crisis.
- Communication technology: Smart phones have transformed rapid communication — both onsite and in transportation. Combined with purpose-built infrastructure, it’s now possible to alert response teams, impacted personnel and people in transit about an incident, minimise exposure and accelerate crisis response.
- Rapid transportation: Increased access to helicopters, purpose-built response boats, trucks and more all increase the speed and effectiveness of offsite support of onsite incidents.
The challenge is getting all of these capabilities to work in synchronisation and build processes in line with what technology is able to deliver. All too often, paper-based planning and reporting get in the way of realising the true potential of modern safety management systems. This final step should be a priority for oil and gas companies focused on improving safety within risk management systems.
Going from fragmentation to Connected Resilience ™
ConnectedResilience ™ requires the creation of a unified platform able to pull together information from across your entire operation, simplifying hazard identification and risk assessment. This global visibility is what turns sophisticated yet fragmented safety systems into a single safety management solution able to transform outcomes and maximise the role of technology in incident management. Making this possible hinges on four main factors:
- Single-source-of-truth: You need one platform that centralises access to all information feeds and communication channels, delivering rapid response and ensuring accurate planning based on complete information.
- Real-time updates: Information is only useful as long as it’s up to date. In order to ensure effective operational monitoring and a genuine ability to respond to a crisis, your visibility needs to be updated on an ongoing basis.
- Tailored yet holistic access: Your real-time and single-source-of-truth platform will only provide value if everyone can access it. However, you don’t want to overwhelm users with irrelevant information. You need a cloud-based solution that provides unified access, but also tailored information feeds using dedicated views that limit access to only relevant information.
- Connecting your last mile: Visibility over those moving between sites and mitigating the associated risks has been a historic problem for businesses. Real-time, complete visibility is essential in order to ensure the safety of your workforce in transit, and be able to manage and respond to incidents where necessary. This is even more critical within the oil and gas industry, which often has locations in remote or potentially hostile territories.
Fundamentally, ConnectedResilience ™ is delivered by centralising access to information and keeping it up to date with automated data feeds that enable real-time decision-making in a crisis and on an ongoing basis. This enables three primary outcomes:
Outcome 1: Improved planning and visibility
By centralising information, it becomes possible to plan on a global level. Rather than needing to piece together solutions based on incomplete or outdated information, you can make accurate decisions and update them in real-time. This reduces the chance of catastrophic failure and improves the effectiveness of the response strategies you create. What’s more, access to those plans, and health and safety best practices, is ensured by providing that visibility across all levels of your organisation.
Outcome 2: Granular control and rapid response
Real-time digital information provides far more detail than is otherwise possible. For example, rather than just knowing who’s onsite, your POB strategy can occur on a segmented level that restricts and tracks access across different onsite locations. This allows you to control the most dangerous locations and limit the time that individuals are exposed to health hazards.
Granular insights also improve response times and capabilities. For example, a mechanical failure in one location can be responded to on an individual level — providing communication updates to the most at-risk personnel, and starting an evacuation in the most effective way possible. When partnered with digital twin models and IoT enabled equipment, the level of sophistication here can become very specific.
Outcome 3: Reduced risk and improved efficiency
The fundamental outcome of connected resilience is your ability to plan and respond in ways that reduce the risk to which your personnel and organisation is exposed. What’s more, this can be done in the most efficient way possible by using your safety management system to help guide commercial and operational priorities. The outcome not only transforms safety, but improves overall strategic planning and delivers a competitive advantage.
Restrata makes real-time connections simple
At Restrata, we’ve spent the last decade and a half working with high-risk industries to improve incident and crisis management. The output is a platform designed to deliver connected resilience — introducing Restrata Platform Incident & Crisis Manager. Our system is tailored to the needs of the Energy & Industrial sector including the oil and gas industry, whether onshore or offshore. It centralises information about your people, organisation and locations in a single-source-of-truth platform and communication hub able to digitise and manage day-to-day operations and ready to manage incidents and emergency response. Obtaining real-time updates about travel itineraries, POB, mustering, hazards, planning and more.
Every energy company is in a different stage of its lifecycle and has its own geographical and functional priorities. Our modular solution enables you to pick and choose the capabilities you need from a holistic and integrated catalogue, and get the right outcome for you in the most efficient way possible whether in your last mile or globally. However, don’t take our word for it. Book your demo of Restrata and find out what connected resilience means first-hand, today.
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