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SafeOCS Industry Safety Data Program: An Industrywide Safety Data Management Framework

Introduction

In the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the oil and gas industry, regulators, and other stakeholders recognized the need for increased collaboration and data sharing to augment their ability to better identify safety risks and address them before an accident occurs. The SafeOCS program is one such collaboration between industry and government. It is a voluntary confidential reporting program that collects and analyzes data to advance safety in oil and gas operations on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) established the program with input from industry and then entered into an agreement with the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) to develop, implement, and operate the program. As a principal statistical agency, BTS has considerable data-collection-and-analysis expertise with near-miss reporting systems for other industries and the statutory authority to protect the confidentiality of the reported information and the reporter’s identify. Source data submitted to BTS are not subject to subpoena, legal discovery, or Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

Solving for the Gap

Across industries, companies have long realized the benefits of collecting and analyzing data around safety and environmental events to identify risks and take actions to prevent reoccurrence. These activities are aided by industry associations that collect and share event information and develop recommended practices to improve performance. In high-reliability industries such as aviation and nuclear, it is common practice to report and share events among companies and for the regulators to identify hidden trends and create or update existing recommended practices, regulations, or other controls.

The challenge for the offshore oil and gas industry is that industry associations and the regulator are typically limited to collecting data on agency-reportable incidents. With this limitation, other high-learning-value events or observed conditions could go unnoticed as a trend until a major event occurs. This lack of timely data represented an opportunity for the industry and the offshore regulator (BSEE) to collaborate on a means of gathering safety-event data that would allow for analysis and identification of trends, thereby enabling appropriate interventions to prevent major incidents and foster continuous improvement. The SafeOCS Industry Safety Data (ISD) program provides an effective process for capturing these trends by looking across a wider spectrum of events, including those with no consequences.

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SafeOCS Industry Safety Data Program: An Industrywide Safety Data Management Framework

Demetra V. Collia, US Department of Transportation, and Roland L. Moreau, ExxonMobil (retired)

01 December 2020

Volume: 72 | Issue: 12

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