Post-Macondo there has been a world-wide collaborative response by the E&P Industry that demonstrates the commitment, capacity, and capability of the industry to continuously enhance safety and environmental protection. A key finding from the investigations was that although the industry had achieved a high level of performance in protecting individual workers (personnel safety) there needed to be more focus and resources on safety management. Although process safety had been known and practiced for many years, many industry organizations created more expansive safety management processes that include new tools to improve effectiveness. In the US this is Safety and Environmental Management System (SEMS) that is based on API RP75 and which is included in new US regulations. SEMS maintains focus on both personnel safety and process safety and includes all of a company’s operations.
SEMS shifts from a prescriptive rule based approach to one that is proactive and performance based. It manages safety with the same principles of planning, organization, implementation, and investigation that are in all other business functions. SEMS is a key mechanism to reduce the likelihood of major incidents. SEMS specifies what is needed for safe operation, checks to see that these specifications are being followed, and builds competency by developing individual knowledge and skill. It also emphasizes that there must be norms and motivations for decision makers (Leaders) to constantly think about safety and behave in ways that maximize safety. SEMS also focuses on effectiveness measurement via audits and other key safety performance indicators that use discussions with personnel at all levels on how the elements of the SEMS are actually implemented. A primary focus is on establishing barriers that prevent escalation to major events. This measurement is part of the continuous learning and improvement loop that is a key feature of SEMS.
SEMS success requires full acknowledgment and acceptance by staff, be motivated from the top of the company, be supported throughout the organization, and drive staff actions. The E&P Industry via SEMS and other safety management systems will continually improve. This continual improvement will be driven by data. The focus must be measuring the integrity of barriers that prevent major incidents with the goal always – no harm to people and no damage to the environment or assets.