As pipeline operators strive for safe and robust operations, the desire for improved risk awareness and operational safety, or process safety, culture continues to grow. The need for improvements related to operational safety has been felt for years throughout the oil and gas industry, but in recent years, it has also come to the forefront of the minds of pipeline operators. While most operators do not “process” anything, the principles of effective operational safety management are being stressed in pipeline incident investigations and communications from regulators.

While many organizations have found ways to improve occupational safety concerns, operational safety has remained overwhelming. It is often easier for an employee to envision the consequence that could result if he or she is splashed with a chemical; however, even an experienced operator may have a hard time imagining how what seems like a minor integrity event could escalate to a major incident.

Two critical building blocks in developing awareness of risk and operational safety are 1) ownership of risks, and 2) the ability to speak one common risk language. By giving field personnel the opportunity to maintain registers of the risks that are important to them, not necessarily the largest risks, both of these building blocks can be developed concurrently.

This paper outlines how the use of field-owned risk registers can help companies of all sizes, heritages, and cultures to improve methods for hazard identification, risk analysis, and risk control. As field personnel learn the language of risk, become familiar with ways to analyze potential consequences, and begin to understand how likely it is that an operational upset or incorrect operation could result in a major incident, personnel who otherwise might not participate in these types of activities begin to take interest. The paper provides insight into how, if implemented correctly, these risk registers can introduce risk management at all levels of the organization and provide a sense of ownership in the field regarding risk and operational safety, while still improving integrity, personal safety, and environmental protection.

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