According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the oil and gas extraction industry, as well as the petroleum and coal products manufacturing, accounted for the some of the lowest recordable occupational injury incident rates in private industry for 2011. But despite statistics, the industry’s public safety perception has been tested by highly publicized tragic incidents, increasing the pressures on emergency managers.
Preparedness planning and emergency management within the highly regulated energy industry requires expertise. Those who manage these programs face many challenges. Preparing for resilience requires planning, internal and external response coordination, training, and exercises. In addition to grappling with budget restraints, program managers are responsible for planning, regulatory compliance, and possibly responding to emergencies. Implementing this level of company and facility resilience often requires external expertise or the services of specialized consultants.
Oil and gas emergency management program challenges may include:
- Maintaining multiple and complex response plans
- A lack of detailed site-specific response strategies
- Frequent personnel changes
- Evolving compliance requirements
- Regulatory audits
- Emergency management personnel who have other full-time responsibilities
- Minimal time available for training
- Increased risk of regulatory penalties and fines
- Reduced budgets
- Gathering or verifying site-specific information for Oil Spill Response, Emergency Response, and SPCC Plans.
- Providing professional engineer certification for SPCC plans.
- Developing Oil Spill Tactical Plans for response strategies downstream of your facilities and pipelines.
- Developing response pre-plans for tanks, process units, and buildings, and high angle and confined space rescue plans.
- Conducting emergency response assessments of personnel, response equipment, plans, and response contractors.
The ramifications of non-compliance or a hazardous incident can be exceedingly detrimental to oil and gas companies. As a result, many oil and gas companies utilize consultants to ensure their preparedness program levels match regulatory compliance requirements and best practice implementation. These specialized experts recognize that proven best practices and strict compliance reduces the inherent hazards associated with oil and gas operations.
The costs associated with contracting consulting services are always in question. When hiring an external emergency management and preparedness consultant, oil and gas companies should evaluate the strategic cost of an incident and the tactical cost of safety compliance versus the consultant fee. The cost benefit of hiring a specialized, reputable consultant typically outweighs the financial impacts associated with non-compliance or a catastrophic incident.
A consultant can improve safety performance and reduce the strategic cost of an incident by:
- Reducing the overall number of incidents
- Improving the ability to respond effectively
- Improving the casualty and harm conditions through expedited responses and accident avoidance
- Proactively showing intent and safety investment through the media and public
- Helping reduce downtime
- Improving asset utilization
In addition, the tactical cost of compliance can be reduced if a competent and proven consultant is contracted. A consultant can improve the tactical cost of compliance by:
- Simplifying and automating tracking, updating, and management
- Facilitating a universal ability to update response management plans across all locations and facilities
- Automating core compliance and response planning activities
- Reducing the compliance and safety resource requirements
- Enabling EHS workers to spend time planning and performing vs. complying and reporting
- Optimizing and coordinating drills, exercises, and actual emergency responses
Consultants can also provide assistance in responding to incidents or non-compliance issues. With each occurrence, vital proactive measures, including procedural and preparedness efforts, can be implemented in order to safely minimize future mandates, fines, accidents, and/or catastrophes.
Learn why Audits can minimize non-compliance, what documents should be reviewed, how they can imprive HSE programs: Download your Audit Preparedness Guide for Industrial Regulatory Compliance (click the image below):