Oil & Gas Process Safety: "We need to bring PSM and the human factor recording together" Interview with John Lodder, Fluor

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Jared Haube

Interview by Jared Haube for Process Safety Management

Process safety holds critical value to hazard prevention and risk mitigation. But how can process safety be measured, and what are the critical success factors to implementing effective management systems?

Ahead of the Process Safety Management forum, I spoke to John Lodder, who is the HSE Director at Fluor, about the shift to integration of people and processes.

Interestingly, John has focused on a strategy that targets the onsite interaction of middle and senior management, particularly in oil and gas refineries.

"It’s about encouraging these managers to increase their frequency with onsite interaction to undertake their own observations, and improve safety culture with early reporting," he said.

At two Caltex refineries in Lytton QLD and Kurnell NSW, John was involved in training frontline managers to work closely with maintenance teams and identify various behaviours in the workplace. This training was also underpinned by integrating awareness of Australian legislation for improving safety.

Over a period of time workplace behaviour changed, especially towards the importance of early reporting of hazard potentials.

"From that we were able to proactively step up process safety engineering to the point of proactive maintenance, particularly for the Kurnell refinery," John remarked.

This strategy provided a two-pronged approach: improving the safety culture and driving proactive process management. The key components in the management system to improve safety culture were setting KPIs upon managers to visit their worksites and conduct meaningful audits, generally using checklists.

There was also an importance placed on the maintenance crew to step up the identification of hazard observations, such as day to day slips, trips and falls, and also include minor loss of containment, steam traps and corrosion. Identifying these seemingly small anomalies ensured that there was no complacency amongst both the maintenance crew and managers.

Defining the right measures for hazard identification has historically rested on the human factor perspective. John indicated that it has mostly focused on a human incident, such as fatal injury, significant loss of time, and near misses.

Process safety tends to focus on major hazards like fires and explosions, and all the various leading indicators that lead to these hazards.

"We need to bring process safety and the human factor recording together and utilise the blue-collar workforce as the eyes and ears for early reporting of hazard anomalies," John said.

Intriguingly, John has also advocated surveys amongst the frontline workforce to not only report key areas of facility improvement; but also incorporate their opinions of their managers.

"Workers can rate their managers’ performance. They can go back to management and say these are the key areas you need to improve, such as communication. This can be measured and compared six months later," he said.

Together, communication across all of the work fronts with management is of utmost importance in identifying early warning signs in the prevention of catastrophic events.


At the Process Safety management 2013 conference, John will present: Human Factors & Safety Culture – Can We Integrate People and Processes Effectively?

He will explore:

  • Key components of management systems that improve safety culture
  • The right measures with the right focus to hazard identification in the workplace

The conference has been strategically designed to explore in-depth insight into:

  • The pivotal concepts of safety performance indicators
  • Development of systematic approaches to risk management in hazardous environments,
  • Comprehensive case studies for establishing process safety leadership and a PSM culture





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