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Improving Training & Safety

Written by Risk Alive

October 22, 2020

When a new employee starts work in your plant at 7:00AM on a Monday, what would you want them to know before their coffee break? Beginning their day by outlining the biggest human initiated process risks and most important human-dependent safeguards might be a good start.

When we think about the pressures of being an operator in the unit or on the panel, there is so much to know and a lot to learn very quickly. Considering these men and women are on the frontline, they are most likely to be impacted if there is a hazardous event. They deserve to know what can go wrong and they need to know how to prevent it.

One thing learned through the analysis of many thousands of risk assessments is that there is a large element of both risk and risk mitigation stemming from human interaction with complex systems in a high-hazard processing facility. Whether it’s the inadvertent closing of a manual valve or some other personnel-related initiating event, the best way to avoid the risk is to make people aware of it and train them on how to avoid it.

In our analysis we found that older or less automated types of facilities tend to have a large element of human related risks more than newer facilities. Analyzing the percentage of human threats relative to Risk Alive’s massive risk library helps to show how your facility measures up. As you see in the image below, the facility in question has 47% of the threats in the facility related to human interaction, which is well in excess of the industry average which was 13%.

How often are people, or activities executed by people, used to mitigate risk in your facility? There are many categories of human related safeguards, from alarms with operator intervention, to operator rounds, that mitigate high-risk scenarios in your plants. In the image below, you can see that this facility has a very large reliance on human related safeguards.

What Questions Could You Ask to Improve Your Training & Emergency Drills?

  1. What are the biggest human initiated risks on our plant?
  2. How can we share that information and train personnel to avoid/respond to those risks?
  3. Are we overly exposed to human related risks compared to industry peers?
  4. How many of our safeguards are human dependent?
  5. Are operator procedures and manuals flagged where safety critical?
  6. Are we overly dependent on personnel related safeguards?

Risk Management is Serious Business 

Providing training for a new employee, or even an experienced person who is working with a new system, is a minimum expectation for companies – especially when the safety of staff is at risk. In Pittsburgh County, Oklahoma, on January 22, 2018, a fatal explosion occurred at the Pryor Gas Trust wellsite claiming the lives of 5 workers on the site.

Contributing to the incident were the following key findings:

  • Underbalanced drilling was performed without needed planning, equipment, skills, or procedures, thus nullifying the planned primary barrier to prevent gas influx;
  • The driller was not effectively trained in using a new electronic trip sheet, which is used to help monitor for gas influx;
  • Key flow checks to determine if the well was flowing were not performed before the incident. Drilling rig workers performed very few of the company-required flow checks during the drilling of well 1H-9 and the previous well. The drilling contractor did not effectively monitor the implementation rate of its flow check policy;
  • The drilling contractor did not test its drillers’ abilities in detecting indications of gas influx through, for example, simulated pit gains. The absence of testing drillers’ influx detection skillsa safety-critical aspect of well control—might have contributed to both drillers not detecting the significant gas influx leading to the blowout;
  • The operating company did not specify the barriers required during operations, or how to respond if a barrier was lost. This contributed to the performance of underbalanced operations that the drilling rig and its crew were not equipped or trained to perform

How do you manage the effectiveness of your safety training program?
Leave a comment with your thoughts below or connect with us to find out how Risk Alive® can help you!


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