Maersk FPSO: The Importance Of Process Safety & Promoting A Culture Of PSM

Posted: 10/14/2013

The main asset of any company is the people, and process safety plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety and security of employees.

This article, written by David McLean, Chief Operating Officer, Maersk FPSOs, examines the importance of process safety and how this is promoted throughout the organization. Mr. Mclean also speaks about the Process Safety ‘Dashboard’ as a tool to facilitate the correct actions and decision making:

Being from the North of Scotland, in many ways the epicentre of oil and gas activities in Europe, but certainly in the United Kingdom, the Piper Alpha disaster over 25 years ago touched everyone in the area. Although I wasn’t in the oil and gas industry at the time, one could never forget the vivid images on our TV screens, nor the front page headlines.

Throughout my 20+ year career in the O & G industry, these images never left me. I fully believe that every company I worked for in those 20+ years fully understood the risks involved with what we were doing, but did they really try and measure those risks?

If you don’t measure it, how can you act, take decisions, and improve? We were all very good at measuring Personal Safety performance i.e. slips, trips and falls, and this was very tangible, but did a good personal safety record mean we had safe operations? Clearly not, as several major accidents had proven. Therefore, as many other companies were and are doing, I initiated a project in our company to try and properly measure our Process Safety performance.

RELATED: Process Safety: The Road To More Than 13.7 Million Safe Man Hours

The Importance of Process Safety within Maersk FPSOs

To be clear, the Process Safety project was not initiated to improve financial bottom line, EBITDA, ROI etc. However, a clear spin-off is that a safer business is a better business. Maersk FPSOs, at the time, were operating assets which had started operations from 1996 to 2010, across all corners of the globe. Therefore, a wide spectrum of assets.

We also had to consider that this could not be Process Safety by design, or construction. It was clearly a Brownfield project. The clear target was to achieve the same levels of Process Safety (and personal Safety) on each and every one of our assets, whether they were 20 years old, or 1 year old.

The main ‘asset’ of any company is its people, and this is one of our Company’s core values. We do our utmost to keep our people safe. Therefore, preventing any type of incident or scenario that can cause harm to our people is of utmost importance.

RELATED: Safety First - A Process Safety Primer

The Process Safety Dashboard

An offshore asset already collects, records and reports huge amounts of data on an on-going basis. It is important that this data is put to best use. If the important data is communicated in a clear and transparent manner, it will facilitate the correct actions and decision making.

There are many ways of communicating data – reports, spreadsheets, graphs etc. – but the dashboard concept can be very effective. It is a medium most of us are automatically familiar with, and can quickly display the status and integrity of the data points being measured, commonly by use of a colour coding, or ‘traffic light’ system.

We chose a 6 layer ‘pyramid dashboard’, with the top layer being Process Safety accidents, and the bottom layer being Cultural Issues, where we split our measured data points across the 6 layers. The pyramid concept is well recognised in the O & G industry. Importantly, it also makes it easier for Senior Management to effectively monitor the on-going status of their operations, and allows the employees on the offshore assets, who directly influence the data, to see how they are performing.

How did we choose the metrics?

The main principles were that we wanted to use existing data points which were being used on all our units (in the knowledge that this is an iterative process), we wanted to keep it simple, and we didn’t want too many metrics, or indicators.

We also found it important to involve the users, so we formed a reference group from all the various stakeholders, including all the offshore assets, Engineering, HQ etc. This led to a mapping exercise which initially resulted in 70 indicators, which were further reduced to 29 indicators. These formed the first set of Process Safety indicators which would feed into the 6 layers of the pyramid.

RELATED: Implementing Audits And Compliance Reviews To Enhance Process Safety Management

How do we promote Process Safety throughout the organization?

For this project to achieve the impact we wanted, effective roll-out of the Process Safety campaign was of prime importance. What we wanted to avoid was the workforce thinking that this was just another campaign, with a free t-shirt, that would eventually fade away. Therefore, we compiled both a ‘Roll-out plan’ and a ‘Communication Plan’.

Maersk already has an extremely high safety focus, therefore considerable effort was applied to ensure that the importance of what we were trying to achieve was well understood and appreciated, particularly by those who would be affected most if it went wrong i.e. the offshore workforce. Several communication mediums were used for the roll-out, including on-board videos of actual process safety events which occurred on the asset, with those individuals who were involved.

Clearly, however, roll-out and initial communication is not the end of the journey. A Process Safety Dashboard is not a stand-alone magic wand that will suddenly transform a company’s performance. It is, however, a great tool to assist in this. Constant monitoring at all levels in the organisation of the status of the dashboard, and timely intervention and actions to address any issues are required. Regular Process Safety reviews and audits are also essential to ensure on-going continuous performance.

RELATED: Improve Employee Vigilance by Embedding Process Safety Culture in Your Organisation


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Posted: 10/14/2013

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