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Electronic permit to work


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How Electronic Permit To Work System Can Improve Work Safety

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Electronic permit to work

  1. 1. Technology & Services How Electronic Permit to Work Systems Can Improve Work Safety a report by Engica TechnologyE-permit systems have seen rapid advancement inrecent years and are currently gaining increasingattention in the global oil industry. At this point thequestions many people are asking is ‘why use acomputerised system for safety management’ and‘what are the benefits’?Engica Technology is a specialist supplier ofelectronic safe systems of work with over 20 yearsexperience in safety and workflow management formajor oil and gas clients globally. This short articlewill outline some of their experiences of thepractical issues and benefits relating to e-safetymanagement technology and examines what isinvolved in the adoption and implementation of anelectronic safety system.Rather than seeing electronic systems as arevolutionary change in the way the safety process iscarried out, a more accurate perspective is thatcomputerised safety management is more of anevolution in methodology and a good system will guide users through the correct sequence of proceduressupport and streamline the current process rather and authorisations. The result is that more time can bethan replace it with a new one. spent on high value activities with an improvement in control over safety issues.With rising oil and gas prices there is considerablepressure to carry out maintenance tasks quickly and The Drivemaintain production levels; however, most oilcompanies, safety professionals and senior operations Aligned with the factors previously discussed, there isstaff would rather not have a serious incident on their currently a major drive among companies in theplatform or processing plant because of the human energy sector to standardise safety procedures acrossconsequences, and also financial cost of accidents, not their assets. Energy operators have a number of issuesto mention the negative effect on the company’s to handle influenced by international operation andworldwide reputation. rapid ownership and equity changes. The effects of global expansion, ageing workforce, regional skillsIn addition to this, the last thing any safety manager shortfalls, increased staff mobility and contractwants is for workers to switch onto autopilot and outsourcing to mention a few, all bring a strain onbecome complacent, which can easily occur with safety knowledge and local practice. These effectsrepetitive maintenance tasks that need to be completed must be counterbalanced with techniques, not only toquickly. The result can be careless safety assessments maintain levels of safety but to strive to improve them.and in the worst case scenario a major accident;therefore the optimum situation is one in which it is While companies require a single standard corporatepossible to complete the repetitive paperwork aspect of safety system, they also want a system that is theirs,the safety process in a minimal amount of time without using their own documents and processes and onecompromising safety. This is where an electronic that can meet the varied needs of different businesssystem plays a role and in fact a good system will also units. Engica’s approach is not to assume that a singlestrengthen the safety process with cross checks, which ‘out of the box’ solution with, for example, preset 1BUSINESS BRIEFING: EXPLORATION & PRODUCTION: THE OIL & GAS REVIEW 2005
  2. 2. Technology & Services flow of, for example, a toolbox or pre-work check can be enforced by virtue of a signatory confirming its physical performance and risk acceptability. Work handover due to shift change, often a time that requires particular care with respect to safety issues, can be supported in a similar manner. Isolation Management Another important element of work safety that permits and workflow will satisfy all organisations. It deserves special attention is the isolation of is recognised that radical changes to fit a software equipment to ensure work can be carried out safely. solution in many cases could cause more problems This process is managed by different companies and than solutions. Staff in general are used to their industries in different ways. A variation of lockout existing paper-based systems that have been derived methods such as keysafes/lockboxes and lockbars are over time within their organisation. What is employed to ensure control over isolation and beneficial in many cases is a step enhancement to de-isolation, as well as the method most widely used strengthen the process rather than radical change and offshore of tagging isolation points. These systems a flexible system is essential to support this. It is the vary considerably in complexity and because of this application of current or slightly enhanced permit and the Q4 safety system has the capability to support certificate forms and safety processes within a new each of the methods discussed. This ranges from the electronic system that will gain the acceptance of printing of isolation lists and tags through to visibility users. One should not ignore that changing practices of shared isolation points, cross locks and key takes time. The sensible approach is a step-by-step cascades and graphical key safe planning. philosophy to accumulate a major step change. Integration Using Technology Q4’s system architecture also allows integration with The next question to ask is ‘what can technology do an existing work management system to form a to help with various aspects of the safety seamless environment. For example, work orders and management process’? work packs (sometimes known as modules) are The Q4 safety system, for example, combines all of the presented to the permit and risk assessment process core elements of work flow, hazard mitigation and electronically, bringing all of the elements into a permit procedural methods into a unified process unified process. This provides a powerfully supported with relational intelligence. The safety synchronised workflow and safety management and controls and execution activities are supplemented unlocks maximum business benefits from close with intrinsically safe cross-check methods to add real integration between systems. Interfaces with other value in improving the safety process in its preparation, client software such as document management execution and return to service phases. The output is a systems can also be created, allowing the attachment safety work pack detailing the procedures and of electronic documents including permits and confirmation checks to support safe work. isolation diagrams (P&ID), work procedures and photographs to safety documents. Knowledge-based Processing Real Time Dashboard Knowledge-based processing of safety information, such as risk assessments and plant isolations, allied Finally the Q4 ‘realtime dashboard’ provides browser with the capture of lessons learnt following work based access to permit status from anywhere on the tasks, provide safety engineers with powerful tools to network. The dashboard uses maps of the facility to process permits and certificates in an informed and allow the user to navigate around views of the highly integrated manner. platform or plant. Each view displays all active permits and isolation certificates, along with any Rule and Role Based active risk assessments that have no associated permit/certificate. Expired documents are shown as A rule and role based flow process can be applied to flashing and each document type has its own the Q4 safety system; configured to each permit or customisable icon and colour. certificate type with authorisation signoffs. Each process automatically generates an electronic audit Practical Issues trail, an approach in principle to strengthen the safety2 checks and awareness of key personnel. The managed Speed of Use BUSINESS BRIEFING: EXPLORATION & PRODUCTION: THE OIL & GAS REVIEW 2005
  3. 3. How Electronic Permit to Work Systems Can Improve Work Safety approach to projects is vital. This ensures thatEven the most functionally rich system if tediously companies realise the core improvements inslow will result in operators finding ways of efficiency and increased adherence to safety bestbypassing the system. After all, a good system is about practice, which are an essential element in theproviding information in order to give more time to current constantly evolving industry.the consideration of the safety issues, risk assessmentand precautions relating to the tasks at hand, not just Safety is no doubt one of the top priorities toto act as an executive safeguard to litigation. The operators and introducing a step improvementmeasure should be at least equal, if not quicker than, change to safety methods needs a plan, resource andmanual methods. a supplier with the necessary expertise.Natural Use An electronic system can be installed and configured quite quickly onto an organisation’s network. ASystems designed for rocket scientists are only summary of elements associated with an electronicappropriate for rocket scientists. This does not mean system configuration will now follow.that some training is not required, but it does meanthat the system should provide an intuitive and • Configuration of screen and hardcopy permit andconsistent interface at each stage or phase of the certificate forms along with state flow assessment or permit assembly. Q4 systems have • Entry of authorisation personnel and permissions.been developed by standing over the shoulders of • Collation of plant isolation engineers and watching experienced and • Collation of risk assessment information.novice users use the system many times to refine its • Configuration of site drawing for digital dashboard.interface. It is not valid to accept incoherency, • Integration with existing and other workblaming it on technology shortfalls. This has led to management systems.the development of on-screen permits and forms thataccurately reflect existing paper permits or isolation It is the definition and the adoption programme thatcertificates. The simulation of paper methods with needs special attention. As one might imagine, thedata enhancing reflect natural processing rather than definition stage presents a series of challenges toseparate element screens. This is known as ‘what you obtain agreement if methods are going to besee is what you get’ (WYSIWYG). improved over the existing process rather than merely replicating a current system setup. For theOther factors come to bear where certain types of offshore oil and gas industry scheduling project teamrepetitive work require processing. Processing that discussions should be factored into the plan. Alwaystakes excessive time will inevitably be bypassed by put in place a project manager with the authoritystaff. This situation has to be avoided and can be level to facilitate and make decisions. Allocateaccomplished with features such as a risk assessment realistic timescales but with hard target milestones.library and process route. This still ensures a risk All these points may seem evident, as are the reasonsassessment and signoff process, but provides an why many software systems are delayed. Engica areeffectively streamlined method for this type of work. here to help with the process.Adoption and Implementation TrainingEngica have built up an extensive knowledge base of Quality training is fundamental to the use of a safetythe key issues relating to the adoption and management system. Central to the Q4 safety systemimplementation of safety systems through the are a series of training packages to make the systemdelivery of projects for major operators such as work effectively for all staff and contract personnelChevron Texaco, BP, Marathon Oil, Kerr McGee and instil confidence in the system. In addition,and Qatargas. This expertise in ensuring installations purpose-built e-learning courses can be designed asare rolled out on time and within budget has often part of the overall project. The e-learning courses arebeen in challenging locations such as the South tailored around the necessary level of knowledgeChina Sea, offshore Angola and the North Sea. each user group’s needs.Experience has also been gained through working ina diverse range of operating environments, Some aspects pertaining to offshore sites are:encompassing both offshore and onshore facilitiessuch as platforms, floating production storage and • project management;offload (vessels) (FPSOs), liquified natural gas (LNG) • awareness and communication campaign;plants and refineries. • purpose-built e-training adoption packages; • procedure manuals;The important thing to note is that an innovative • super user and administration system training; 3BUSINESS BRIEFING: EXPLORATION & PRODUCTION: THE OIL & GAS REVIEW 2005
  4. 4. Technology & Services • mass staff training; and safety engineer. The next decade will see substantial • offshore handholding. improvements as more companies adopt electronic methodologies and new developments evolve to Languages improve industry best practice. International installations with regard to native Engica Technology provides software, language operators, such as China and Kazakhstan, implementation and integration for mission critical have to be borne in mind. The Q4 safety system has maintenance and safety management. ■ been purposely designed for multi-lingual deployment and has the ability to run dual language versions simultaneously. Contact Information Synopsis For more information: The age of electronic safe systems of work is taking Website: shape and there are a number of further techniques not covered in this short article that can also assist a4 BUSINESS BRIEFING: EXPLORATION & PRODUCTION: THE OIL & GAS REVIEW 2005