SPE Report Defines Path to Zero Harm

The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) has released the technical report “Getting to Zero and Beyond: The Path Forward.” The report consolidates lessons learned and visions of safety from hundreds of leaders in the oil and gas industry and presents recommendations for companies and the industry as a whole. It was approved in March after member feedback was collected.

“This report is a tremendous example of the vision and painstaking commitment of hundreds of industry volunteers working with many moving parts that SPE is so well equipped to enable,” said Johana Dunlop, HSE Technical Director for SPE.  

Between 2009 and 2016, SPE facilitated a series of global sessions to develop ideas for the advancement of health, safety, and the environment (HSE) in the industry. These sessions brought together more than 850 leaders representing diverse disciplines from across the oil and gas industry, government, and academia to discuss a simple question: How can the oil and gas industry achieve zero harm?

The participants generated many valuable ideas for a step change in performance, and they precipitated an alignment around a vision of safety, specifically the expectation of zero harm. The participants agreed that achieving zero harm was possible but added that, given the oil and gas industry’s varied cultures and risk tolerances, it was necessary to identify the methods for attaining zero collaboratively. The participants widely agreed that the effort must begin with the industry’s most valuable resource—its people—and the elements of human factors in particular, including the factors that influence the interaction of people with each other, with facilities and equipment, and with management systems and working practices used to organize and manage the way work is conducted within the industry.

Specific recommendations for the industry discussed in this report include

  • Define a safety vision in which zero is an attainable expectation today—not a future goal
  • Learn from other industries that are mature in human factors with the expressed intent to progress the application of human factors across the oil and gas industry
  • De-emphasize lagging performace indicators (injury rates) and use more leading indicators to ensure a progressive and preventative focus on the effectiveness of safeguards and risk reduction
  • Establish a no-risk-to-sharing culture—a commitment of collaboration—across the industry with the expressed intent to overcome perceived risks and competition barriers
  • Remove barriers to open sharing of lessons learned from major incidents, high-potential near misses, and projects during which the work, although complex and with considerable risk, was executed without incidents
  • Collaborate with regulators to ensure they can match the best minds in industry so that competent discussions about the risk-management strategies are occurring

For individual companies, the recommendations include

  • Realize an interdependent HSE culture demonstrated by a commitment to a collaborative environment and consistent safety culture at the worksite regardless of company position (operator, service company, specialty contractor)
  • Achieve operational ownership of HSE
  • Ensure sustainable HSE leadership programs

This report builds on two previously published reports, Assessing the Processes, Tools, and Value of Sharing and Learning From Offshore E&P Safety-Related Data (SPE-182847-TR) and The Human Factor: Process Safety and Culture (SPE-170575-TR).

The report will be presented at the biennial SPE International Conference and Exhibition on Health, Safety, Security, Environment, and Social Responsibility on 16–18 April in Abu Dhabi.

Register for the conference here.

Find the full technical report here (PDF).



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