Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) is an integral part of the refining and petrochemical industry and is important to every stakeholder of the sector. The industry operates in an environment where hazardous materials, heavy equipment, and high temperature and pressure are normal elements. As a result of consistent campaigns and stringent regulations by government and industry bodies as well as internal HSE endeavours of the operators and contractors, downstream industry is becoming an increasingly safer place to work. This is demonstrated by the declining number of incidents, injuries and illnesses in the industry.
At the same time, the recent incidents of refinery fires point to the vulnerability of the refining and petrochemical industry in HSE-related matters. Recently, a massive explosion and fire caused substantial damage to the refinery complex of Philadelphia Energy Solutions. It is interesting to note here that an advisory group was formed to seek public’s opinion on the future of this refinery, which will hold three public meetings in August, pursuing inputs from labour, academia, business interests, and city government, as well as environmental and community groups. In another recent incident, 37 people were injured in a fire in one of the ExxonMobil refinery facilities in Houston.
It is worth mentioning here that HSE-related incidents, injuries and illnesses are fewer in the Middle East refining and petrochemical industry. One of the main reasons for this is the serious implementation of internal HSE campaigns by the operators and EPC contractors, apart from strict compliance with regulations by governments and standards by industry bodies like American Petroleum Institute.
ADNOC’s ‘100% HSE’ is a vibrant example for continuous improvement in health, safety, environment and process safety. The company’s employees and contractors are at the heart of 100% HSE. They enforce and implement the company’s HSE policy, identify and mitigate risks, and keep themselves and their colleagues safe. All ADNOC employees are empowered and obliged to intervene in unsafe situations, address the issue, and ensure that the company policies and procedures are followed. As a result, Abu Dhabi’s refining and petrochemical industry remains one of the safest in the world, with a lost time injury frequency rate that is considerably lower than the global industry average.
Another example from the region for its serious implementation of HSE standards is McDermott’s performance in completing its part of the Liwa Plastics Industries Complex (LPIC) project of Oman Oil & Orpic Group with a major achievement in man-hours without lost-time injury. Recently, the company completed 50 million man-hours without a lost-time injury. This is a fantastic safety performance by the project.
While we have so many rules, regulations and standards on HSE and there are lot of trainings and awareness campaigns happening, it is the mind-set and work culture which actually matter as far as keeping a refining and petrochemical facility safe for the employees, contractors, and the community around.
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