Isolated and frequently inhospitable, the offshore marine environment can be one of the most dangerous workplaces on earth. Add oil & gas industry operations into the mix, and the risk of something going wrong intensifies.
A safe and efficient control of work system is not just desirable for companies working in the oil & gas marine sector – it’s critical. But the headache is finding a system which is flexible enough to meet operational needs as well as the demands of a heavily-regulated working environment.
It’s a dilemma that leading project management, engineering and construction contractor, TechnipFMC, found itself in several years ago. Health and Safety managers at the company’s fleet management arm in Aberdeen needed to find a system to replace outdated processes which had been in place for almost two decades and put the contract out to tender.
A submission from international health and safety consultancy Cresent landed on their desk, based around a relatively new Integrated Safe System of Work (ISSoW) product – WorkSafe®. TechnipFMC’s health and safety manager Mark Bosson believed they were looking at a product with tremendous potential, but as the system had been developed for offshore installations and upstream processing in the oil and gas industry, was not sure that it was the right solution for Technip’s fleet.
From Cresent’s point of view, the answer was simple: let’s work together to create a bespoke version of WorkSafe®. The result is the first ISSoW to be utilised in the marine environment.
“WorkSafe® in the form that we know it now did not exist before our partnership with Cresent. What we have done is taken the proprietary system and effectively ‘marinised’ it to suit Technip’s specifications and the needs of its fleet. As Cresent had participated in the advisory group that had worked with the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to update industry guidance documents, we were confident that we were working with a specialist provider of a best in class system which would meet or exceed client expectations – and that has proved to be the case.” – Mark Bosson, Technip Health and Safety Manager.
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Technip’s fleet management organisation in Aberdeen runs an offshore fleet of construction, pipelay and diving support vessels which operate around the world. It manages and supplies a core fleet of 12 vessels, a pool of offshore and onshore personnel of around 2,000 people and a vast array of equipment required for the successful completion of subsea construction and installation projects.
WorkSafe®, which comes in both paper-based and electronic formats, uses a series of documented procedures to define responsibilities, processes and work controls. It is made up of five different elements.
“It is incredibly easy to use and accessible, integrating the three primary operations of risk assessment, permit to work and isolation management. It is essentially a workflow process that guides users through every procedure, eliminating scope for errors and enhancing control. The user can walk through each step of the process, whilst being able to see at a glance what is going on, thus allowing the permit system to perform its primary function of controlling work that is potentially hazardous.” – Mark Bosson, TechnipFMC Health and Safety Manager.
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The success of the WorkSafe® roll-out by TechnipFMC was recognised recently when the company was shortlisted for an accolade in the management and operations category of the Safety At Sea Awards.
“There were challenges along the way, but the system has many benefits. In stepping back from the whole process, the key benefit, in my view, lies in the title ‘integrated’. By this I mean that all of the parts of the process are clearly and intrinsically linked together logically: they are not just individual elements badged under a collective title,” said Mr Bosson.
“The processes that we previously had in place were basic and isolated, and none of them were linked. Now we hold regular work permit planning meetings which increase crew awareness of proposed activities. WorkSafe® enables jobs to be planned logically, to avoid conflicting activities happening simultaneously in the same work location.”
“Since deployment, we have continued to make further modifications to the WorkSafe® process. It is now used on board eight ships in the TechnipFMC fleet, and the system has complete buy-in from our operational workforce. Furthermore, we now have a universal safe system of work that aligns us with the global operator community, and we think that gives us a significant advantage.
“The principal reasons for the success of WorkSafe® has been the sense of ownership that staff have over the system and the fact that its implementation has had the full support of senior managers. It has been the most significant single HSE project that we have done in recent years, and we spent a lot of time with Cresent planning the roll-out to make sure that it was embedded well with the end users.
“Another factor was because Cresent was willing to work with us to create something that was truly fit for purpose and not an off-the-shelf package. WorkSafe® has brought us a number of benefits.”
Jim Land, CEO of Cresent, agrees. “We never want our clients to look at their health and safety obligations simply as a box-ticking exercise. We work with them to minimise risks by ensuring that our products become an integrated part of the overall strategy. Our aim for clients is always the same – to produce a safe and competent workforce.”
“Innovation – as well as safety – is at the heart of everything we do at Cresent. We pride ourselves on being flexible and being able to adapt to meet the needs of our customers, as we realised many years ago that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution that is right for everyone. While an off-the-shelf package might be right for one client, the next will require a bespoke solution and the challenge of creating that is one that we are always prepared to take on. We are with clients every step of the way and continue to give ongoing support even when a system has been introduced.“
As well as its headquarters in Scotland, Cresent has offices in Brazil and is operationally present across the globe. The company has built up 30 years of experience in delivering health and safety consultancy, training, e-learning and multi-media.
WorkSafe® represented the biggest ever research and development programme undertaken by the company and was created with the input of industry professionals with an explicit understanding of the operational needs and priorities of companies operating in hazardous environments.
The product continues to grow in popularity. It has now been translated into ten different languages, and a version has even been developed for users with a limited aptitude for literacy, using diagrams and pictorials.
“When TechnipFMC asked us if we would work with them to develop a bespoke version of WorkSafe® we did not hesitate,” said Jim Land. “We were already seeing the benefits that the product was delivering for the energy sector, and we were confident that we could develop something that would revolutionise health and safety processes in the offshore marine environment.“
“WorkSafe® is focused on improving safety, but the added benefit has been that clients are seeing improved financial results. The system cuts down on paperwork, so this allows the client to have a much greater operational focus by reducing the time spent on bureaucratic tasks.”
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