Looking back on 2015 three things come to mind. The drastic drop in oil prices; the new regulations introduced in the European Union; and the greater application of Key Performance Indicators within companies.
The past year (2015) has been highlighted by the drastic drop in oil prices. This puts great pressure on oil companies to trim what can be seen as possible savings by reducing such items as preventative maintenance and training. However the other side of the argument is that during such times it is cheaper to upgrade training and maintenance as there is not such a demand for maximum production throughputs. To delay in training is a short term saving which lets personnel come off the high wire of perception and can lead to blunting and mistakes which will be far more costly than training. The problem is that training costs are known whereas the cost of lack of training, with a resultant accident, is not known.
In the area of safety regulations 2015 has seen the revisions of the European Directives relating to both on-shore and off-shore high hazard plants. The on-shore Directive (Seveso III) is now applicable in all European countries and in the UK the COMAH Regulations have also been revised. The upgrading of the regulations are aimed at the improvement of both process and personal safety. These changes need to be studied by oil companies to see where improvements can be made or in the case of companies operating within the EU the changes have to be made.
Key Performance Indicators are a now common addition in the tools for greater safety for both Process and Personal Safety. The ultimate goal is to reduce incidents and prevent loss in any form. The ANSI/API Recommended Practice 754; the OECD Safety Performance Indicators and the HSE guidance on Developing Process Safety Indicators have all helped to push the Refining and Petrochemical Industry positively in this direction. It does take time for such performance measures to have an effect and no one should expect a miraculous change in performance. What is disappointing is that many companies still hang on to the final figures of LTI as the ultimate measure of performance and base rewards on these numbers. Companies should rethink their reward systems for safety performance and base these entirely on Key Performance Indicators. Whether an incident becomes an accident is also matter of luck.