The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Technical Report, "Getting to Zero and Beyond: The Path Forward" sets the stage for continuing the discussion across the industry of the essential items the industry must undertake attain and sustain zero harm.

Between 2009 and 2016, the SPE facilitated a series of global sessions to develop ideas for the continued improvement of Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) in the industry. These sessions brought together leaders from across the oil and gas industry, government, and academia representing diverse disciplines to discuss a simple question: How can the oil and gas industry achieve zero harm? The diverse group of participants generated many valuable ideas for a "step change" in performance, and they precipitated alignment around a vision of safety, specifically the expectation of zero harm.

What the participants identified and the authors emphasize is that the industry must unequivocally set an expectation of zero harm and urgently commence with the required breakthrough in thinking, collaboration and an approach to achieve zero.

For the industry, this includes the following:

  • Define a safety vision in which zero is an attainable expectation today - not a future goal.

  • Learn from other industries mature in human factors with the expressed intent to progress the application of human factors across the oil and gas industry.

  • De-emphasize lagging performance indicators (injury rates) and utilize more leading indicators to ensure a progressive and preventative focus on the effectiveness of safeguards and risk reduction.

  • Establish a no-risk-to-sharing culture - a commitment of collaboration - across the industry with the expressed intent to overcome perceived risks and competition barriers.

  • Remove barriers to open sharing of lessons learned from major incidents, high-potential near misses and projects where, although complex and with considerable risk, the work was executed without incidents.

  • Work with regulators to ensure they can match the best minds in industry so competent discussions about the risk-management strategies are occurring.

For individual companies the actions include:

  • Realize an interdependent HSE culture demonstrated by a commitment to a collaborative environment and consistent safety culture at the worksite regardless of company position (operator, service company, specialty contractor).

  • Achieve operational ownership of HSE.

  • Ensure sustainable HSE leadership.

Ensuring an industry-wide commitment to the expectation of zero harm will be additive to the ongoing efforts of companies integrating elements of human factors to improve human performance. These efforts are aligned to High Reliability Organizations (HROs) and are an important evolutionary step for oil and gas companies to reach and maintain a sustainable "Getting to Zero" culture. It is this culture that helps make the expectation of zero harm attainable.

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