By Lori LeBlanc, LMOGA Offshore Committee Director for BIC Magazine
America’s offshore oil and gas industry is committed to safety for employees, contractors and our supporting communities, and a new partnership between industry and government is helping to make the industry even safer and smarter as well.
While offshore operators and service companies in the Gulf are working hard to produce America’s energy, create jobs, and generate revenue for our state and federal governments, they are also focused every day on improving safety in the workplace through extensive research, intense training and the development of rigorous worker safety standards for extreme offshore conditions. All of this has resulted in a safety record ranked very high among all industries in the country.
According to a 2016 study conducted by API, the injury and illness rate for the U.S. oil and natural gas industry fell 41 percent from years 2005 to 2014, and remains well below the national average for all private industry sectors. In fact, if we look only at the U.S. offshore industry as a segment of the larger oil and gas industry, the rate of job-related non-fatal injuries and illnesses was 85 percent lower than the average for the entire U.S. private industry sector in 2014, according to the API study.
Even with these encouraging safety figures, America’s offshore oil and gas industry and the federal government are not resting in the admirable pursuit of zero accidents or injuries.
Since being named Director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) last year, Scott Angelle has re-invigorated BSEE’s SafeOCS program to facilitate confidential data sharing among offshore operators about industry safety systems. The SafeOCS was developed in 2013 by BSEE and the U.S. Department of Transportation to help industry capture and share key lessons from significant near-miss and other safety events, and later expanded to include the more accurate and confidential collection of data on equipment failures.
Participation in SafeOCS is voluntary, but Director Angelle has made it a priority to promote the program and the tremendous value of sharing experiences and lessons with others to build superior safety systems. His efforts have been working.
“We inherited a program with a three percent participation rate and have increased that to 59 percent, but we are not stopping there. Increasing participation in SafeOCS and sharing safety data across industry are critical for generating meaningful analysis,” he said.
Confidential information collected through the SafeOCS program will help BSEE identify current safety concerns and emerging trends among all segments of OCS operations. The aggregate data that is collected, analyzed and published as part of the program is also made available for review by other government agencies, industry and the general public.
According to BSEE, increased operational safety and environmental protection have been realized by other industries, such as aviation, that have implemented confidential industry-wide data sharing programs like SafeOCS. That is the result Angelle is expecting as well.
“The ultimate goal of this program is to identify proactive steps to mitigate risks and ensure offshore Read/Print/Share as PDFoperations are safe, reliable and environmentally sustainable,” he said.
That sentiment is echoed by Louisiana’s offshore oil and gas industry. LMOGA members welcome the opportunity to partner with the federal government on fruitful programs like SafeOCS that encourage dialogue and information sharing between government and industry to strengthen safety performance for our own employees, support companies, and the communities that we call home.