V. Janardhana Rao
“SAFETY is a choice - not a chance”.
“Tomorrow is a reward for working safely today"
Oil Industry Safety Directorate (OISD) is a technical directorate under the aegis of
Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Government of India. It has been entrusted with the responsibility of formulating standards, overseeing their implementation through safety audits in the Oil & Gas industry to enhance safety levels and reduce risk inherent within the industry.
The Organization, established in the year 1986, with the ultimate objective of enhancing the overall safety of this vital energy sector has been continually serving the Oil & Gas industry for the last three decades in achieving highest safety standards and thus increasing productivity and energy security.
I feel extremely privileged and take great pride in assuming the responsibility as Executive Director of this prestigious safety organization committed to enhancing safety and instilling safety culture in the entire Oil & Gas industry.
The world continues to witness industrial disasters since the beginning of the industrial age. Accidents and disasters do not happen by themselves but are made to happen due to over confidence, complacency, noncompliance to SOPs and lack of clarity among operating and maintenance people.
Therefore, our mission is to assist Oil & Gas industry in India to achieve highest standards in safety by conformance to the standards of safety and risk management, adopting the best practices and minimizing losses while achieving sustainability; needless to mention that this can only be achieved with the concerted efforts from the industry at large.
It goes without saying that the safety of Petroleum & Natural Gas industry, which handles highly inflammable hydro-carbons in all physical forms – solid, liquid & gas, which involve complex processes under high temperature and pressure, is of paramount importance. It is not only critical for the operators’ manpower and assets but also such adverse outcomes, at times, may spread beyond the boundary of the industry establishments. Therefore, together we must ensure that these safety systems are always effective 24 x 7 and necessary provisions of checks and balances exist in our systems to track their effectiveness.
If we go through the analysis of these incidents, majority of the times we find that how even a minor negligence or system failure can lead to huge consequences for the people, the environment and the vital national assets. If an industry is to avoid the severe negative consequences of a major accident, it must have a rigorous process in place to identify major hazards and plans to mitigate / avoid them. The need to drive for excellence in safety is a pre-requisite to achieve smooth operation of our plants & facilities and generate sustainable profit. Safety is something which we cannot negotiate or compromise with. We should not only aim for nil accidents across the industry segments, but also set our ultimate aim for “Zero” incidents of fire and accidents in our Oil & Gas industry.
The target of achieving ‘Nil’ incident across the industry segment may sound difficult to achieve but it is not impossible for an industry equipped with latest technology, world class systems and above all an excellent human resource with positive attitude. The need of the hour is to focus on implementation of the process safety management at our Oil & Gas installations. This is where our role in the industry assumes more importance. By demonstrating our strong commitment towards the cause of safety, we must ensure that we make our workplaces incident free.
Root cause of the majority of incidents can be attributed to soft issues like poor supervision, lack of implementation of standard operating procedures, violation of the work permit system etc. In other words, majority of the accidents could have been prevented had we been more diligent and paid respect to our system & procedures. Engagement with our employees and contract workers at all levels may be an area where we can further improve ourselves.
Adequate knowledge and skills of our workforce at any given point of time is one of the main areas where we need to put more focus. Training and retraining of personnel is therefore the key to enhancing safety competencies. Regular on the job training in various disciplines like operations, maintenance, inspections etc., would keep our workforce updated and provide them with an extra edge in performing their functions more effectively and safely.
Another area where we need to lay further emphasis is strengthening of our internal audit mechanism across the industry segments. I strongly believe that our internal work force has more knowledge of our installations and hence internal safety audit are more powerful and meaningful than any sample audit carried out by external agency. Evaluation of effectiveness of our present internal audit mechanism, identification and implementation of methods to improve the extant system might be the way towards enhancing the safety. Encouraging transparency, factual reporting in such audits can prove to be a very useful tool.
Conducting periodic safety audits, verification of emergency preparedness through regular mock drills both off site as well as onsite, conducting regular loss control meetings, sharing of learnings from incidents in a well-structured manner etc. are some of the important activities which would help in preventing any undesirable incident in our installations. External Safety Audits by OISD have proved to be a useful tool in identification of gaps in critical areas. Regular monitoring of liquidation of recommendations of such audits by top management shall go a long way in enhancing the safety of the installations across industry segments.
Encouragement to all the stake holders for reporting the ‘Near Miss’ incidents is another important area where more renewed focus is needed. History has shown repeatedly that most loss producing events (incidents) were preceded by warnings or near miss incidents. Recognizing and reporting near miss incidents can significantly improve worker safety and enhance an organization’s safety culture. Analysis of ‘Near Miss’ incidents and wide disseminations of such analysis with employees at large shall go a long way in prevention of major incidents.
Friends, I conclude by saying that let us strive towards making the Oil & Gas industry a better and safer place to work. We must make our installations safe enough to set a benchmark for the global industry to follow. Let all our stake holders take pride in associating themselves with our business. I look forward to your views, suggestions and ideas to improve upon further and enable continuous improvement.
V. Janardhana Rao