Safety and Health Magazine | 21 April 2016

EPA: Proposed Changes to Rule on Risk Management Program Will Boost Process Safety

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing changes to its Risk Management Program (RMP) rule, claiming the new requirements would improve chemical process safety and keep first responders safer.

Announced on 25 February, the changes come after 2 years of outreach to communities, first responders, local governments, and industry stakeholders.

The RMP rule would require:

  • Employers to use safer technologies and alternatives in process hazard assessment
  • Third-party audits and root-cause analysis to identify areas where safety improvements can be made at facilities
  • Coordination between facilities and local emergency response agencies in emergency planning and preparedness
  • Certain facilities to conduct emergency response exercises with local responders

“This proposal is a step in the right direction,” Mathy Stanislaus, EPA assistant administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management, wrote in a blog post. “We want to build on the success of leaders in the chemical industry by enhancing their operations to prevent accidents, and we want to make sure that communities are fully prepared for a chemical plant accident, so that first responders, workers, and neighboring community members are protected.”

Troutman Sanders | 7 April 2016

PHMSA Proposes Rules To Expand Gas Pipeline Safety Regulations

On 17 March, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking expanding regulations for gas transmission and gathering pipelines.

Specifically, PHMSA proposes, among other things, to enhance integrity management requirements, create a new clarification applicable to gas pipelines labeled as moderate consequence areas, require pressure testing for older pipelines that have not previously required testing, and modify regulations regarding onshore gathering lines.

Video: A Structured Approach to Coaching

Shawn M. Galloway of ProAct Safety, shares a proven, structured approach to coaching for performance of any kind.

ProAct Safety | 31 March 2016

Column: Safety Culture and Social Media

American culture has already been heavily impacted by social media. Cultures once formed around the workplace, school, church, or other places where people gathered to build relationships. Today, people can get together and form cultures in cyberspace. It is just a matter of time until these cybercultures are tapped as a resource to build organizational and safety cultures.

Organizations that have been challenged by their own logistics now have a way to connect previously disconnected workers and to form safety cultures via social media. Already, Facebook and LinkedIn have invited companies to form their own groups online. Many companies have utilized the Internet to distribute safety manuals and guidelines to their scattered workforces via shared, restricted-access websites. Adding opportunities for their workers to chat with each other and share ideas, experiences, and best practices is a logical extension of internet and cell phone usage.

Although logistically challenged organizations will be among the first to use social media, other organizations without logistical problems will follow in close order. We often joke about people sitting across a table texting each other rather than speaking. However, the joke is becoming the new reality. We are becoming more and more users of social media and texting and less and less users of interpersonal conversation. Recognizing this reality is the first step toward forming company and safety cultures via social media.

Sharing everyday experiences and ideas in real time is a great lure to participation for workers. The ability to communicate accident-investigation findings immediately or even to have a safety stand down via everyone’s smart phones could prove invaluable. Immediate access to another employee with greater expertise without travel could improve job-safety analyses and other forms of prejob planning.

The fact is workers already communicate with some of their fellow workers via social media. Groups of friends, family members at work, and neighbors who are also work associates often have friended each other and communicate regularly. An organization can easily create a work community online to facilitate the connection of these groups. Several types of social media already facilitate multiple groupings of contacts such as family and friends. Adding business associates is a simple next step, for which the technology already exists.

Fuel Fix | 21 March 2016

NASA Brought in To Advise on Reducing Offshore Drilling Risk

The commonalities between roughnecks and astronauts sounds like the beginning of a bad joke.

But the government’s offshore drilling inspector, the Bureau of of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), announced Thursday that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has agreed to advise it on reducing the risk of accidents.

“Both BSEE and NASA work in harsh and uncompromising environments, relying on cutting-edge technology to go deeper and further than previously thought possible,” BSEE Director Brian Salerno explained in a statement.

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.