SOURCE: marcus evans

marcus evans

August 14, 2013 16:47 ET

Process Safety for the Offshore Oil & Gas Realm

Interview With Del Forbes, Worldwide Corporate HSE Auditor & Culture Assessor, Noble Drilling

HOUSTON, TX--(Marketwired - Aug 14, 2013) - Though new regulations have changed the way offshore companies operate, the need to make safety part of an enterprise sustainability management strategy has never been more important. As accountability moves higher up the chain of command, operators are coming under increasing pressure to place an emphasis on HSE -- especially with regard to human factors and workforce training. At the same time, juggling compliance efforts with daily safety concerns has forced a re-thinking of how to evaluate SEMS and training systems for overall safe operation and to drive strategic decisions.

Del Forbes, Worldwide Corporate HSE Auditor & Culture Assessor at Noble Drilling, recently spoke with marcus evans about key topics to be discussed at the upcoming 3rd Annual Offshore Safety & Workforce Capability Assurance Conference, October 2-4, 2013, in Houston. All responses represent the view of Mr. Forbes and not necessarily those of Noble Drilling and its subsidiaries.

In preparation of the corporate HSE audit / assessment, how do you recommend reviewing the trends and data sets, progress and status against a company's HSE activity plan and then close out corrective actions?

DF: As for me, with regard to data trends, I avoid using the LTI or REC numbers, as lagging indicators, they do not necessarily reflect the effectiveness of management systems; because I really don't know how much of it was method and how much was just plain old luck. I must dig deeper to answer the question of effectiveness. So during planning, I data mine the incident reports and any investigations associated with them. I look at past internal, external audit results then match those to the corrective actions and cause analysis. Lastly I look at the activity plan and research how it was developed. I.E. -- was it imposed on the leadership or was it developed collaboratively with them to facilitate their ownership? Often not doing the latter is why reaching some activity plan's targets are marginal. These actions give me several areas to look at and provide the audited a comprehensive analysis.

Given your experience, what are a few best practices to ensure the logistics are properly executed during audits / assessments? What about effectively communicating in a timely manner so operations is provided with a detailed brief of the purpose, scope, and methods pertaining to the audit / assessment process?

DF: I stick to the standards out lined in ISO 19011-2011. This standard provides guidance on the management of an audit program, on the planning and conducting of an audit of the management system, as well as on the competence and evaluation of an auditor and an audit team. I plan the locations, dates, time and durations of the audit activities, including meetings with the auditee's management. However, with that being said, I have learned over the years not to schedule activities too close together, maintain lots of wiggle room because, inevitably, I regret it if I don't.

At this event, you will be speaking on process safety, human resource development and enterprise risk management to improve in-house relationships, employee retention and recruitment programs. Do you believe behavior-based training systems are the most efficient compared to other systems? If not, how do you know which training system would be best for a company to implement?

DF: In short: No, and that's the crux of my presentation; one must first understand the quantum mechanics of their systems and processes. They are all subject to an uncertainty principle because one system affects the other. E.g. I can have the best certified HSE management system, but if I don't take care of the people nor have my enterprise risks addressed, I am lop-sided and my results will remain uncertain. Each management system or process contributes a needed component; the hard part is maintaining the harmony between them to reach what I call "Quantum Sustainability".

What are some of the key elements in developing an organizational strategy for HR growth, training, and setting goals across the enterprise?

DF: First, I have to know where I am now; this is why a systematic /methodical appraisal is so essential. Then, based on my gap assessments, organization, behavior, process safety and enterprise risk needs, I (collaboratively with leadership) decide where we want to be in order to meet the agreed to specific short or long term goals, then I carefully and regularly measure effectiveness and suitability. I ensure leaders facilitate and reinforce the use of any new skills and provide feedback to their leadership. I do this because I know they have insight as to if it is in context to their operational needs and how it affects the culture.

Switching gears to the topic of risk management, what are some key processes to better evaluate the level of exposure and determine what type of exposure and risk is in the field?

DF: I commingle enterprise risk and process safety assessment techniques. I have discovered when it's done this way, I get a more complete picture.

Lastly, Risk Based Process Safety (RBPS) is a tool that the offshore realm is attempting to grasp. What do we need to know about process safety in the next 6-12 months and what are the critical elements to understand in order to achieve a more safe and efficient operation?

DF: Downstream has been working with RBPS for many years and now we upstream folks are finally wising up and using it too. To answer the question what do we need to know? To that I say "Read Baby Read". I like the book "Guidelines for RISK Based Process Safety" published by Wiley. It's around $100 but worth it. In closing I urge you to remember, RBPS is not only a tool that causes us to operate logically. Basically it's left brain stuff, but don't forget the creative right brain because we manage people too and not just machines.

Del Forbes is a Walk The Talk OHS Pro, HSEMS Lead Auditor, BBS Culture Change Coach and a Heart Centered Safe Lifestyle Advocate. Including his military service, Del has collected over two decades of experience in the Public Safety or Occupational Health & Safety sector, with the majority of it in the ultra-high-risk Energy & Petroleum Industry. Del believes everyone will make a difference in this world either good or bad; all they have to do is choose which one they want to make. He has made his.

The marcus evans 3rd Annual Offshore Safety & Workforce Capability Assurance Conference will take place in Houston, October 2-4, 2013. For more information, visit the event website.

For more information, please contact Tyler Kelch, Marketing Coordinator, Media & PR, marcus evans at 312-894-6377 or

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