Abstract

This paper discusses safety management in drilling operations both as a general philosophy and specifically as adopted by Atwood Oceanics Australia. The paper highlights the need for a structured safety management plan and shows the positive impact such a plan can have on the drilling operation.

It is probably appropriate to define Safety Management at the outset to better understand the concept. Although it is something of an imprecise discipline, it can perhaps best be described in these terms:

An effective safety management system is designed to reduce or eliminate all aspects of accidental loss in order to maximise the resources of the organization. This is achieved through goal setting, planning, organizing, staffing and controlling. Assuch, safety is managed like any other company function.

Clearly, some questions spring to mind! why is it necessary? what's wrong with the way it is presently carried out? How much will it cost? Will it be worthwhile?

There are a number of reasons to focus on safety management - chief among them should be the very real concern for the pain and suffering of those who are unfortunate enough to be injured, maimed or even killed. In industry today, it should be the position of management that the injury, maiming or death of people in the workplace is absolutely intolerable. The unfortunate reality - as any Safety Consultant will tell you - is somewhat less altruistic. Many businesses pay lip service to the principle of safety in the workplace but are ultimately more concerned with a perception of its cost, The practical response to this is that good safety management is essential, not only from a humanitarian viewpoint, but as a sound business principle as well.

To better understand this, we should examine the statistical correlation between the incidence of serious or disabling injuries, minor injuries, property damage and "near-miss" type accidents. This relationship was established by Frank Bird in 1969, the then Director of Engineering Services with the Insurance Company of North America. Bird undertook an analysis of 1,753,498 accidents reported by 297 co-operating companies. These companies represented 21 different industrial groups, employing 1,750,000 employees who worked over 3 billion man-hours during the exposure period analyzed. The ratios revealed by the study are illustrated in Figure 1 and although the numbers have been rounded off, the ratios are correct. Interestingly, the relationship is constant across industry and is equally valid for low risk occupations.

Using these data, it can readily be seen that any increase in the incidence of minor injuries will have a proportional increase in serious or disabling injuries and an exponential increase in property damage and near-misses.

It's important to remember that the base of the iceberg is largely invisible. These are the near-misses that go unreported for the most part because no one was hurt and there was no visible damage incurred.

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