Human factors in offshore oil safety book released

The National Academies Press (NAP) has released its latest book to follow up on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill entitled, “The Human Factors of Process Safety and Worker Empowerment in the Offshore Oil Industry: Proceedings of a Workshop.”

Since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill, efforts to improve safety in the offshore oil industry have resulted in the adoption of new technological controls, increased promotion of safety culture, and the adoption of new data collection systems to improve both safety and performance. As an essential element of a positive safety culture, operators and regulators are increasingly integrating strategies that empower workers to participate in process safety decisions that reduce hazards and improve safety.

While the human factors of personal safety have been widely studied and adopted in many high-risk industries, process safety – the application of engineering, design, and operative practices to address major hazard concerns – is less well understood from a human factors perspective, particularly in the offshore oil industry.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine organized a workshop in January 2018 to explore best practices and lessons learned from other high-risk, high-reliability industries for the benefit of the research community and of citizens, industry practitioners, decision makers, and officials addressing safety in the offshore oil industry. This publication from NAP summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. The Human Factors of Process Safety and Worker Empowerment in the Offshore Oil Industry: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.


About the author

David Krapf

David Krapf has been editor of WorkBoat, the nation’s leading trade magazine for the inland and coastal waterways industry, since 1999. He is responsible for overseeing the editorial direction of the publication. Krapf has been in the publishing industry since 1987, beginning as a reporter and editor with daily and weekly newspapers in the Houston area. He also was the editor of a transportation industry daily in New Orleans before joining WorkBoat as a contributing editor in 1992. He has been covering the transportation industry since 1989, and has a degree in business administration from the State University of New York at Oswego, and also studied journalism at the University of Houston.

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    While it sounds great and it has gotten somewhat better, there are still those OIMs, captains, drilling superintendents, company men that if you say ANYTHING against their plan or “the plan” you as the one questioning that plan and become the pariah — you are not a “team player.” Especially junior personnel WILL NOT buck the system if it is an OIM/Captain or a supervisor. They will say okay and do it they are afraid to lose that 6 figure job. In today’s environment you can shake a tree and 50 drillers will fallout, so no one wants to make waves.
    With the decline in the industry they have also reduced the amount of money for maintenance, upgrades and other systems, the only way the company will lay out the money today is if there is no other choice or a client asked for upgrade as long as the client is paying the bill.
    Need to overhaul a main engine that’s 1/2 million hours? We got 4 more, so let’s push it off for 6 months. I have seen it happen and since the downturn, they have reduced manpower on most rigs to what would can be considered a minimum crew to keep it running. Companies have been laying off, welders, radio operators, material men, mechanical supervisors, electricians, roughnecks and roustabouts to name a few. And what happens when you run like this, the personnel are in a dead run most of their 12-hour shift to keep up with all that goes into keeping a 5th, 6th generation drill ship/ semi running. It will happen again it is just a matter of time.

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