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c. Hazard Elimination? What Hazard?

Many companies (and especially in the oil and gas industry) support the notion of so called “Hazard Hunts”. The brief is nearly always the same….”identify as many hazards as possible in a given amount of time and then decide what needs to be done to eliminate or mitigate them” Sounds so simple and yet time and time again it invariably misses the mark. Why? Well, sadly this is often a classic case of doing without thinking. In the case of an industry like oil and gas, the principal objective is to drill into, extract from and then produce (in preferably the largest quantities possible) pressurized, highly flammable liquids and gases. In other words, the oil and gas industry is in the business of looking for and producing something that is itself hazardous. So the whole concept of eliminating hazards from the worksite seems a little flawed when facilities are purposely either drilling into or actually producing them. The same holds true for the mining industry. So in effect, not hazard elimination, but hazard generation. Furthermore, it’s often the case that the definitions around hazards are simply not that clear. Hazards are actually situation and context dependent, meaning where you are, what you’re doing and what you’re trying to prevent, changes how hazards are actively managed. For example, the hazards associated with a construction worker performing a welding job on a new pipe being laid in a remote location such as a desert, are very different from the hazards for the exact same type of job being performed on an offshore platform where the pipe may previously have contained flammable pressurized liquids. Pegasus uses the principle that hazards are always energy sources and that it’s the interaction with people in the form of an unsafe action(s) and condition(s) that triggers a hazardous event - which in turn may or may not lead to actual, undesired consequences. Under this definition, hazards (in many cases) simply cannot be eliminated or at least, managed directly. Often, the only route open is to manage people’s interactions with hazards. For example, a drilling rig will always have the hazard of height or potential energy given it employs a derrick. Eliminating the hazard in this case means removing the derrick altogether. Since this is unlikely to happen, then hazard management can only focus on managing the interaction with this energy source, whether it’s in the form of people, tools or equipment being at height.  

Pegasus Risk Management was founded in 2013 by Peter V. Bridle and is quickly growing into a group of dedicated, highly experienced consultants with wide and diverse backgrounds in the areas of major operational risk. We're here to help all of our clients and their unique needs achieve step changes in operational discipline and in transforming cultures of "casual compliance". 

No challenge is too big or too small for us. Our goal is  simply to deliver world class, yet innovative solutions to stubborn performance challenges. In short, Pegasus picks up where most others leave off...

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a.  Applying Stop Work Authority (SWA): The Worksite vs. The Boardroom

Many companies exhort the merits of a Stop Work Authority (SWA) program. The idea being that for many workers, it represents one of the last lines of defense. In other words, rather than continuing with something that doesn’t seem right, confusing or just plain unsafe, workers should exercise their so called Stop Work Authority. However, despite company’s effort to promote the principle, its actual effectiveness is inexplicably linked to the willingness of the supervisor to view such a program positively. For example, if a supervisor is simply under pressure to get the job done, then having an employee wanting to shut the job down for a period of time is unlikely to be met very favorably. Consequently the effectiveness of the Stop Work Authority program is a product of the overall operating culture of the organization. So if the culture is not supportive, then evoking stop work authority is probably going to take an unrealistic amount of courage from the employee. Worse still, senior management - who own the operating culture - and while keen to promote the program, often see it as something that starts and ends at the worksite. Not so. When it comes to management activities such as reviewing budgets, leaders will naturally try to find ways and means of reducing their operating expense. However, sometimes such actions undermine the overall effectiveness of the HSE Management System and its supporting culture, so it’s imperative when faced with such situations, “push back” is always forthcoming. Or in other words, for senior management to also exercise Stop Work Authority, since proceeding without further discussion could result in serious negative consequences. Unfortunately though and especially in organization that have very strong top down leadership, this rarely happens. So for Stop Work Authority to be effective at the worksite, there's perhaps a direct correlation to how well it is practiced in the boardroom.

b.  Is the Total Recordable Injury Rate (TRIR) ever a good measure for Process Safety or Major Hazard Event (MHE) Management?
Probably not…. TRIR is a good measure of personal safety or occupational injuries and illnesses. It can be useful in measuring how well work is executed (from a personal safety perspective) by capturing whether any injuries we’re incurred as the work was performed. Note however, when TRIR rates are high (e.g.  > 3) they are a much better indicator of overall safety performance, but when TRIR rates are relatively low (i.e. < 1), they have much less relevance simply because the data points are spread so thin. And in such instances, performance can be seriously misinterpreted and misunderstood. In the management of Process Safety, the focus is much more on the availability and integrity of "barriers" to prevent or recover from a major event such as the loss of containment of a well. Such barriers are designed, operated and maintained to ensure that they are always fit for purpose, fully functional and available. In other words, barrier integrity is linked to the output or the quality of the work. For example, in the case of a worker injured while performing maintenance on a deluge system, TRIR would be a useful metric to capture the actual injury. But for the exact same work being viewed through a Process Safety lens, the focus is not at all on whether the worker was injured while executing the job, but whether the work was completed to the correct standard and as a result, whether the barrier (in this case the deluge system) is available and functions as expected.

Reducing unplanned events whether related to Injuries, Asset Damage, Environmental Impact or Non-Productive Time (NPT), is essentially all tied to the management of operational risk. So in other words, even if you're trying hard to do all the right things, you can still incur serious, untimely and costly incidents. Conversely, if the management of operational risk isn't always at the top of your agenda, you may well have been fortunate enough to have achieved extended period of top tier performance. However, effective management of operational risk means being able to reasonably predict performance over the mid to longer term. In essence, removing the luck from the equation by having the assurance you know what tomorrow will bring.