This paper addresses the key elements of Petroleum Development Oman L.L.C.'s HSE programmes and the systems employed to structure their application. An improvement in HSE performance with the introduction of HSE programmes and systems is demonstrated. Special emphasis is given to some of the difficulties experienced with application of the systems in a multi-national/cultural workforce. Finally, examples are given of the techniques adopted to promote the application of HSE management in the workforce, with particular emphasis on communication and training.


Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) engages in Exploration and Production activities in the Oil and Gas Industry. It was established by Royal Decree as a limited liability company with effect from 1 January 1980. The Shell Petroleum Company Ltd. holds 34 % of the shares and Shell International Exploration and Production B.V. provides technical expertise and staff to PDO. PDO directly employs around 4,900 personnel of some 33 different nationalities including Middle Eastern, Western European, North American, Asian and African. It also indirectly employs an annual average of circa 11,000 personnel through contracted-out work.

PDO's approach to HSE Management envelops three main principles. These require that HSE must form an integral part of, and its objectives be held in parity with, all other primary business objectives; that managing HSE is the responsibility of 'Line' personnel; and that we should strive to prevent all accidents. PDO launched its Enhanced Safety Management (ESM) Programme in 1984. The eleven principles of ESM formed the framework of the programme and include principles that specifically address the human element such as visible Management Commitment, Line Responsibility and Motivation and Communication.

The ESM Programme together with several other initiatives, such as the introduction of Safety Reference Documents, Environmental Management Plans, etc., have led to sustained underlying improvements in HSE performance since 1984 (Fig. 1). The introduction of an Occupational Health Management programme is far more recent but progress is already being achieved in key exposure areas of the business.

The ESM Programme was later structured into a formalised Safety Management System and eventually into an HSE Management System by introducing a Quality Model approach to Systems Management. A total of seventeen 'Safety Cases' have been developed to document how the 'System' is applied across the business. Efforts are now underway to fully develop these into 'HSE' Cases to bring the level of evolution for Environmental and Occupational Health matters more into line with that of Safety.

The multi-cultural composition of the workforce imposes specific difficulties in execution of HSE initiatives and application of the HSE System. Literacy levels and languages spoken vary widely across the workforce and give rise to difficulties, particularly in the areas of communication and training. Significant efforts have been made to address these areas using approaches such as multi-lingual training, novel educational tools, simple methods to communicate the detailed information on hazards contained in the Safety Cases to the level of the workforce, and specifically targeted HSE campaigns such as the Road Safety Drive.

HSE performance in PDO has improved dramatically in terms of Lost Time Injury Frequency (LTIF - number of lost time injuries, including fatalities, per million manhours exposure) since the introduction of the various HSE management initiatives in PDO from 1984 onwards. However, the LTIF signature has tailed off and the large step changes that occurred in the past are no longer realistically achievable.

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