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The current trend in the work environment is based on a better quality of life and optimal working conditions in order to prevent the worker's health may be affected by situations that it can create, under this perception it is necessary the implementation of management systems governing the safety and health at work, establishing prevention as a form of action to mitigate the damages that can lead to health deterioration. In this report it is discussed a Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) system that should be developed following rules, laws and regulations in response to the urgent demand of the companies to have a recognized document in safety and occupational health areas to evaluate their management system and participate in bidding processes for the provision of services to the oil and gas industry. Also, it is presented, in a general way, an example of the before-mentioned framed on Venezuelan scenario. As conclusions, contractors must have a structured and integrated HSE system which must also meet the national and international regulations and standards in order to satisfy the expectations of operators and win a tender as well as ensure a high-quality workplace to personnel.
Currently, the Oil and Gas Industry has experienced a great expansion in its activities due to the vast demand of hydrocarbons worldwide. For this reason, opportunities for contractor companies to take part in the Industry core competencies have also increased because the largest oil-business operators have had the necessity of outsourcing several tasks to them. All these activities consist in high-risk processes and operations which can affect negatively to people, facilities and the environment.
A successful health and safety system is that which has identified all hazards involved in activities and has taken into account the measures to treat them (Mearns and Flin 1995). In this way, contactors that want to deal with the oil and gas industries must accomplish certain technical and safety requirements to carry out the services that Operators need to be executed and to fulfil their business performance due to their personnel have frequently to deal with hazardous environments and activities.
For the above-mentioned, most of the contactors companies make great efforts, by first instance, to strengthen their Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) policies and performance with a high level of responsibility and efficiency.
The objective of this report is to show the main aspects which contractors should state their HSE model system according to the requirements from the government entities (legislation), oil companies (operators), international standards certifiers etc, and the benefits that contractors might perceive by implementing a HSE plan. Also, an example framed on Venezuelan legal and health and safety conditions is mentioned. At the end, a set of conclusions are given to summary all the issues discussed.
Regulation and Legislation Framework
In every oil and gas project certain conditions exist at the beginning, stating the criteria to develop them. Thus, a set of agreements are established based on the regulatory scenario where the project will take place. These regulations are simply the national legislation of a specific country as well as some standards and other legal considerations. All this represents the agreeing where contracting relationships begin and deal with the needs and requirements of the operator.
An important aspect of regulatory scenario frequently consists in taxes, working norms, HSE policies, social responsibility, operative requirements etc. The national and international HSE regulations as well as the contractor ones itself form the framework that defines actions and avoid excesses. The best practices make recommendations based on experience but it is a managerial approach which must ensure legislation and HSE objectives compliance.
In Venezuela, for instance, all of projects within the Oil Industry are regulated by several national laws, such as the 'LOT' (Ley Orgánica del Trabajo -Work National Law) and the LOPCYMAT (Ley Orgánica de Prevención, Condiciones y Medio Ambiente de Trabajo -Prevention, Conditions and Work Environment Law). The latter has its own institution that disseminates all the rules, legal procedures and verifies compliance with the law to avoid the occurrence of any accident in the workplace, therefore, to ensure a safe work environment. This entity is named INPSASEL (Instituto Nacional de Prevención, Salud y Seguridad Laborales -Prevention, Health and Safety National Institution). All of this represents the legal HSE scenario where operators and contractors define their commitments, roles and responsibilities in the project development regarding Safety and Health areas.
The LOPCYMAT has specific actions and procedures to promote a well-established HSE Model in companies as well as sanctions and fines in case any irregularity is raised. In this way, a contract represents the final legal document setting forth all clauses which are based on all labour interrelations between the operator and the contractor, allowing recognition of all responsibilities and obligations stipulated on the national laws and health and safety international standards that each of the parties must comply.
Contractor Approach and Operator Needs
The vast part of oil and gas companies has well defined its own HSE model system that must include all the policies, processes, function and procedure descriptions and a detailed responsibility framework where everyone of its activities are based. These HSE models are generally incorporated in international standards accepted worldwide. However, it is common that some project activities require specific policies or norms. Therefore, it is very important this approach is taken into account when the project commences with contract agreeing.
It is also worth contractors having a proper HSE management system that can be integrated seamlessly to existing operator HSE system.
It is also known that according to the nature of the project, there are certain technical requirements and job demands to perform. From these, operators will determine the conditions under activities will be handled and why the contractors should have a coherent system that could meet the operator needs, being essential to reach agreements. Moreover, the foreseen costs should be discussed by both operators and contractors to be sure that budget requirements are enough to achieve the goals in the HSE areas.
In Venezuela, the State Oil Company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) begins with the opening of a tender process where the project description is provided and framed on a technical, economical, social and HSE demands as well as the expectations about responsibilities of contractors. The interested one must comply fully with those requests in order to compete in the bidding process.
Once a contractor has classified, PDVSA reviews its HSE system to verify whether it can be integrated with its own and it satisfies all the national regulations and permits. In addition, PDVSA also reviews the contractor financial status to evaluate if it really can fulfil HSE requirements without using the budget allocated to other activity requests.
Therefore, contractors must have a detailed manual named 'Plan Específico SHA' (HSE Specific Plan) where must specify the HSE plan: policies, strategies, commitment, risk management, safe working practices, procedures, monitoring, personnel training, HSE implementation improvement, evaluation, audit etc. All of this must be present during the whole project lifecycle addressing the responsibilities, legislation and budget compliance.
Contractor Health and Safety Model issues
Once a contractor wins the tender to execute services, it must implement an appropriate plan that incorporates the Health and Safety issues to be applied during the project:
Risk Management: Contractors must identify and weigh the risks involved for services rendered or material supplies. The prioritization in performance monitoring is the reason why these must know which services or activities are those over which they have direct control.
Operative tools: During the project lifecycle it is important to develop some tools that permit implementing the HSE system, monitoring the improvement plan, identify strengths and weaknesses and to carry out best practices, such as: assessment visits, effective audits, equipment verification, creation of worker's health profiles etc.
Improvement plan and Personnel training: According to the expectations of the operator at the beginning of the project, it is crucial to configure a HSE improvement plan in order to ensure a safe workplace and positive results. It is also important that contractors provide a complete training about HSE practices to the personnel in a sustain way based on specific responsibilities and roles in Health and Safety. Therefore, by doing this, it is easier to ensure the integrated management by strengthening the measures that mitigate risks.
Learned lessons and reporting: It is worth reporting all the statistics, achieved goals, difficulties, identified critical areas and future challenges in order to show a path to follow, and if a incident occurs to spread the causes, the facts and the measures to avoid further damage. Therefore, an effective and diffusive communication is mandatory for a successful HSE model.
Benefits of a well planned Contractor Health and Safety Model
Among the main benefits gained by contractors from the implementation of a well designed HSE model, they are:
Industrial safety helps to ensure the continuity of a business/project (satisfaction of the operator)
Provides advantage over other contractors with less Health and Safety experience when tenders
Strengthens the corporative image as a solid and responsible contractor
Ensures a safe workplace framed on high-quality national and international standards and regulations to personnel
Makes business rentable because it is 'cheaper' to implement an efficient Health and Safety plan in order to avoid unnecessary deceases due to negligence and overruns by maintaining operations in a steady flow
In order to be effective, contractors must have a well structured HSE system that can be integrated with all activities which involve planning, organization, direction and control
It is mandatory that contractors adhere to the current national regulations and laws and international health and safety standards
Prior services start, contractors must submit the relevant plans for review and approval by the operators, following the tender documentation that gave rise to contract and form part of the proposition presented
Contractors are responsible for compliance and provisions for health and safety at work to prevent and minimize risks or repair damages caused by their activities arising from the execution of the contract
It is important that contractors identify training needs and ensure that all staff have received proper training about HSE
Contractors shall prepare reports on accidents, injuries, incidents and other statistics and documents specified in the HSE plan to improve it