46 Offshore October 2017 • www.offshore-mag.com
whether competence was lacking or if people
just did not have the correct information from
which to make a decision.
KK: We’re only just learning how to classify,
let alone improve human performance. There’s
still a lot to do. And the industry does seek to get
better – by making reference to the nuclear and
airline industries as shining examples. Those
industries addressed things like equipment
design, maintenance, management systems
and people simultaneously, without preference.
For example, in oil and gas, the Mexico City and
Bhopal disasters sparked PSM regulations in
the US focusing on systems and then eventually
people. I think the nuclear and airline industries
have been far more successful versus the oil and
gas industry’s phased approach.
Question: Is there a gap between what process safety KPIs and operational management
systems are telling us and the feeling on the
MN: I think there are. I’ve heard anecdotally from operators the KPIs say one thing and
the reality on the plant is another.
JT: A lot of people are still trying to figure
out the process safety indicators they should
focus on. We’ve only had API standards in
place for less than ten years. There’s also
probably a communication gap between field
and office personnel, engineers, and manage-
ment who set up process safety indicators and
processes. Generally these indicators are not
clearly communicated at an operator level in
terms of what they are and their importance.
I’m not sure actions are taken as a result of the
process safety related data and the KPIs produced. One important KPI mentioned in the
CCPS book on incident investigation is near
miss data. It is critical to report both incidents
and near misses, and periodically analyze
them to determine causal factors and root
causes, in order to prevent future incidents.
KK: I don’t think we do a great job on KPIs.
I know very few sites that make a big deal of
reporting their process safety performance
to operations. They also don’t publicize their
safety-critical equipment performance and
inspections. And so, if operations aren’t aware,
performance starts to slip.
GC: There’s always a gap, and there shouldn’t
be. We need to put capabilities in place to mini-
mize gaps and ensure metrics are available
enterprise-wide. Also, it’s important that peoples’
perception of certain metrics match the reality
MN: Major accidents are by definition low
frequency but high consequence. So if something
happens, you can’t really make a judgement on
whether there is a trend, or whether you’re particu-
larly vulnerable. Some people try and extrapolate
near misses and look at other performance indicators, but a lot of KPIs are based on how well an
organization implements safety processes.
KK: Evaluating risk is always somewhat sub-
jective. And for the most part, companies have
not been terribly transparent in the information
they use for monitoring process safety risk. Most
people can point to their numbers for personnel
injuries and behavioral safety obser vations – but
catastrophic events are rare, so they aren’t front
of mind, even if the risk is always there.
Question: Does the reality of risk management measure up to the intent of risk management?
JT: I’d say most companies probably rec-
ognize their process safety performance is not
where they want it. But on the whole, we’re
doing a better job today of understanding
risk than we did, when I started, say, 30 to
40 years ago.
MN: People are experienced enough to
know that hazardous industries mean risky
business. I don’t think people would publicly
admit that risk is so unpredictable. But other
industries, nuclear and airline, have managed
to eliminate some sources of unpredictable
risk. These sectors put a lot of emphasis on
training, stop work authority and redundan-cies in design so that if a system fails, there’s
another that would take over. In the process
industries, we’ve become somewhat normal-
ized to risk, and we don’t come anywhere
close to investing the same level of risk management resources. But there is a lot to gain
from investing in safety. Typically, with safety
comes improved operational performance.
KK: Actually, I do think there’s an undue
confidence at both the executive and field
levels that “those things just don’t happen to
us.” There isn’t that everyday sense of caution
that should be present in people who are one
procedure away from a major catastrophic
event. Most plant workers and managers have
never experienced a major process safety
event, so they believe it won’t happen to them.
We know that’s not true.
GC: Real safety happens on the ground
when people internalize it and don’t view it as a
burden on everyday business. That means risk
exposure must be made visible, prominent
and available so everyone can understand its
impact on the operational reality.
KK: When I first started in the industry 40
years ago, fires and explosions were relatively
common. Most workers had experienced one.
There was a belief that these could happen,
and people paid attention to avoid them.
There was maybe a negative that people felt
responsible for putting their own lives at risk
to minimize those events. Thankfully, we’ve
almost eliminated this ‘cowboy approach.’ But
now the industry has the newest and rawest
process safety data. We’ve really only been
managing it for five years or so. With more
time and data, we’ll be able to say whether
we’re actually better than we think.
Question: Do you think the relationship
between PSM and operational risk management is close enough?
GC: No. I think PSM is always aspirational,
and the relationship between process safety
and its impact on front-line operations can be
JT: There are gaps in most cases. There’s
been a lot of work focused on developing PSM
systems, improving risk related practices, and
developing PSM tools. But there is often a
“disconnect” between what the practices and
processes intend and what actually happens
at the grassroots operator level. Lots of companies are working on it – but I don’t know
any that have a magic bullet.
MN: The relatively new SEMS regulations
in the Gulf of Mexico and the more mature
Safety Case Regulations seen in Europe and
Australasia have an emphasis on process safety,
barrier management, and more importantly,
communication to all staff of the hazards and
protections. In reality, process safety is in a
different part of the organization, so operations
personnel struggle to understand some of the
language and how to apply it to their reality.
But then, process safety people sit in a world
of scenarios and models in which it is easy to
diverge from reality. It’s a bit like your house