Twelve Steps to Engineering Safe Onshore Oil and Gas Facilities
Late in the evening of a wintery night, a worker is hurrying to respond to an alarm that has gone off. Suddenly, the unexpected happens. The worker is severely injured. The ensuing investigation finds that the incident could have been prevented if the equipment had been engineered properly.
How many times have you heard of incidents that have severely injured a person and you thought, “That incident could have been prevented if only the equipment had been engineered properly?” One of the first lines of defense in preventing incidents is to “engineer out the hazards.” However, equipment is often installed without taking into consideration how it can be engineered properly to minimize or eliminate operating risks.
The safety of an onshore facility is a function of how safely the facility is designed. People are hurt and sometimes killed when explosions, fires, and toxic-gas releases occur at oil- and gas-producing facilities that were designed without regard to measures that could have prevented such incidents. The safety of people and equipment needs to be considered and included along every step in the engineering of oil and gas facilities. Properly designed oil and gas facilities can eliminate injuries and deaths.
Many wellsites, tank batteries, and production facilities are at risk because of design or installation errors. These errors may have occurred when the facility was built or occurred over time because the facility had been continually “added on to” through the years. Lack of proper engineering design can lead to equipment failure, lost production, human injury, or harm to the environment.
This paper reviews the key areas for facility designers and engineers to include when designing facilities to ensure safe facilities. Use and incorporation of all safety engineering principles outlined in this paper should enable facility engineers and designers to build safe facilities that reduce the risk of major incidents.
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