Well site operations utilize many types of equipment which can involve health, safety and environment (HSE) aspects. Changes in equipment design in the industry have often been made in reaction to incidents or in reaction to changes in legislation and regulatory standards.

This reactive approach can reduce the safety margin of the equipment when engineering teams become focused on minimum standard compliance rather than overall safety. This can be an increasing concern where the equipment is new and novel as the speed of design changes may outpace changes in regulation, and there is less in-use experience on which to base the risk analysis. It can also increase overall cost if changes in design are made at later stages in development.

In order to move to a more proactive approach for HSE in engineering, an oilfield services company formally implemented a program to integrate HSE aspects into the equipment design cycle. The program not only considers the operational risk of the equipment but also considers the risks in the verification and testing phases, and during manufacturing. Key elements to this implementation are:

  • HSE competency and training of engineers, designers and project managers.

  • Documented standards and best practices that can foster intelligent reuse.

  • Project management framework that guides development teams in identifying risk in all areas, including HSE.

  • Integrating HSE personnel with design teams to understand the functional and business requirements and constraints.

Proactively introducing HSE requirements early, and continuously, during engineering projects can positively affect design, making the resulting equipment safer to use and reducing costs due to non-compliance and design re-work.

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