New offshore safety guidance with potential to prevent major oil & gas accidents sees the light of day
Aberdeen-headquartered process safety software and consultancy firm Salus Technical has launched what it describes as “a potentially life-saving” guidance document based on extensive research into non-compliance letters sent to duty holders on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Salus Technical reported on Monday, 30 January 2023, that its team of process safety engineers, led by the firm’s founder and MD, had written and published “a potentially life-saving” guidance document – titled How offshore inspection scores reveal major accident prevention measures – based on analysing 147 non-compliance letters that the HSE sent to duty-holders in 2019.
Explaining the rationale, David Jamieson, Salus Technical’s Founder and MD, remarked: “Each year, the Energy Division of the UK HSE visits over 100 offshore oil and gas installations to carry out inspections on a wide range of topics. If a topic inspection finds poor performance, the HSE writes to the duty holder outlining the action they need to take to improve.
“The total number of non-compliances each year is public record, but not the detail that lies within. We believe that the detail is where the true value lies – greater understanding and awareness can inform changes to prevent incidents taking place.”
Following the submission of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the HSE, the company’s team set about analysing in detail the 147 letters and converting this into “a truly anonymous database,” removing all reference to duty holders and installations.
“This is about learning, not pointing the finger. It’s also important to note that each one of these non-compliances was resolved by the duty holder prior to the HSE releasing the information, a powerful signal that the industry takes its safety obligations very seriously,” added Jamieson.
Salus Technical underlines that its team produced a guidance document grouped by inspection topic, breaking down the detail of each topic, highlighting common areas of concern, and offering “real, actionable advice” to prevent major accidents from happening in the future.
Jamieson further pointed out that a lot of the firm’s findings were recurring, as multiple duty holders experienced the same issue that year, adding: “This means it’s more than likely that many others will also be grappling with these, and indeed may potentially be unaware that these are non-compliance issues.
“If that knowledge is in the public domain, then duty holders have an opportunity to resolve these issues. Learning from others in the industry aligns with Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) Process Safety Leadership principles, and as members of OEUK we are fully committed to these.”
According to Jamieson, the company tried to make it easy for people to implement changes by creating “a one-page summary for leaders within the industry, and also written assurance checklists so that any duty holder can easily perform an audit against our findings.”
Furthermore, the guidance document has been peer-reviewed by a number of senior figures within the industry, including Mark Wilson, Offshore Energies UK’s HSE and Operations Director, who commented: “The insights gained from Salus’s analysis of the Health and Safety Executive’s inspection findings can help to shape and enable new risk-based approaches. This development has the potential to benefit safety performance across the industry.
“This latest report links to the ongoing work that OEUK and our members have been undertaking – particularly in the areas of hydrocarbon release prevention, maintenance backlog reduction, operational risk assessment and workforce engagement.”
“As an industry, there is no room for complacency. So this kind of analysis ensures that we remain constantly vigilant, maintaining focus on the key areas of health and safety development,” concluded Wilson.