The safety and health hazards for regarding offshore oil and gas activities must be documented in a risk assessment.
The main principle of the Offshore Safety Act is that the health and safety risks for people working and staying on an offshore installation as well as risks of major environmental incidents shall be identified, assessed and reduced as much as reasonably practicable.
As part of this, the results shall be documented in a risk assessment, which will cover:
- Major hazards: Fire, explosion, vessel collisions, helicopter accidents, major environmental incident.
- Risks in the work environment: Physical, psychological, chemical and biological conditions and accident risks.
- Risks by staying at the facility, which are not related to the work: Hygiene, drinking water and water quality, indoor air quality of the accommodation and the impact of tobacco smoke, etc.
The risk assessment shall be documented in the offshore installation’s Health and Safety Document - also known as a Health and Safety Case (HSC) - or for the production installations, in the design review.
The ALARP principle - as low as reasonably practicable
Subsequently, the safety and health risks as well as the risks of major environmental incidents shall be reduced to a level that is as low as reasonably practicable – the so-called ALARP principle. ALARP is an abbreviation for the English As Low As Reasonably Practicable.
It shall be demonstrated in the offshore installation’s Health and Safety Case that the risks mentioned above are reduced according to the ALARP principle.
All life stages of the offshore installation must be covered
For production offshore installations and fixed non-production installations, the safety and health risks shall be identified, assessed and minimized at all stages of the life of the installation, i.e. in the design, construction, delivery, installation, operation and changes to the system.
The same apply to operation of non-productions mobile offshore installations and changes of the offshore installation.
In practice, the responsible company is the operator on fixed offshore installations, while on mobile offshore installations it is the company which contracted with the operator.
Reference is made to the Danish Working Environment Authority’s guidelines for elaboration of risk assessment and the ALARP principle:
Risk assessment in the design- and project phase
The risk assessment for production installations starts in the design- and project phase where the operator through the design and layout of the facility shall reduce the health and safety risks as well as risks of major environmental incidents in accordance with the ALARP principle.
In the design phase the risk assessment is an overall assessment based on the present knowledge of the project, as documented in the review of the design for the Danish Working Environment Authority. Subsequently, the risk assessment is updated as the detail of the project is determined in the offshore installation’s Health and Safety Case.
The assessment of the risk of major hazard (e.g. fire or explosion) shall be in accordance with recognized methods for risk assessment.
The assessment of risks regarding the working environment typically includes:
- Physical conditions: e.g. the work room, the surroundings, noise, indoor air quality, vibration and lighting.
- Ergonomic factors: e.g. heavy work, repetitive work and posture.
- Psychological factors: e.g. working hours, time pressure, monotony, influence, violence and working alone.
- Chemical factors: e.g. work with substances and materials.
- Biological conditions: e.g. bacteria, viruses and fungi.
- Risks of accidents: e.g. from machinery, hand tools, traffic and handling of items.
The risks in the design of new installations and modifications to existing facilities shall be given consideration in accordance with the ALARP principle.
In principle, assessments of other risks can be accomplished according to the methods, which are described in the Danish Working Environment Authority’s guidelines about (workplace) risk assessment.
Operation of production offshore installations and changes thereto
The operator shall make an assessment of the health and safety risks and risks of major environmental incidents associated with the operation of the offshore installation and reduce these risks in accordance with the ALARP principle.
Risk assessments and the demonstration that the ALARP principle has been followed shall be documented in the Health and Safety Case of the facility, which shall be submitted to the Danish Working Environment Authority with an application for operating license.
Risks for the individual employees in connection with the operation of the offshore installation are calculated from the time the person meet at the airport or shipping port, which transfers them to the offshore installation until the person is back on shore again.
These risks can be:
- Risks of transport by helicopter or ship between the facility and shore and transport between different offshore installations.
- Risks arising from the construction of the installation.
- Risks associated with work and stay at the facility during the non-working hours.
- Risks arising from the interaction between several offshore installations, for example the combination of mobile drilling rigs and fixed installations.
Continuously, the operator shall improve the safety and health level as well as prevent major environmental events through continued reduction of safety and health risks as well as risk for major environmental incidents.
The risk assessment should be updated when significant changes are made by the installation, for example, by extension of platforms, expanding the number of wells, purchase of new equipment etc. When updating the installation the ALARP principle shall be applied again for the changed conditions.
When working at the offshore installation the individual employee shall make sure that the safety and health risks are identified, assessed and reduced in accordance with the ALARP principle before the work starts.
Operation of mobile non-production installations and changes thereto
The operator shall make an assessment of the health and safety risks as well as risks for major environmental incidents associated with the operation of the mobile installations and reduce these risks according to the ALARP principle.
The risk assessment and the identification that the ALARP principle is followed shall be documented in the installation’s Health and Safety Case which shall be submitted to the Danish Working Environment Authority with an application of permission.
The risks for the individual employee in connection to the operations are calculated from the time they meet at the airport or port of shipment where the transport to the production offshore installation takes places, until the person is back again.
The documentation in the Health and Safety Case can be prepared according to IADC HSE Case Guidelines for Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODU).
At the signing of the agreement according to the use of non-productions offshore installations the operator shall ensure that the operator has carried out the risk assessment mentioned above and reduced the risks according to the ALARP principle.
Valid certificates issued by the flag state or a recognized classification company on behalf thereof may constitute evidence that the parts of the mobile installation which are covered by the certificates, fulfil the above. If there are significant changes on a mobile non-production offshore installation or on the operational conditions while it is in operation in the Danish sector, the operator is obliged to update the risk assessment.
An evacuation analysis shall demonstrate that those on board an offshore installation in critical situations can be evacuated and saved to a safe place in an efficient and controlled manner.
An evacuation analysis shall at least:
- Describe situations where evacuation of the offshore installation will be necessary. These situations shall be determined on the basis of the completed risk assessment of major hazards
- Describe and assess escape routes
- Describe and assess evacuation options
- Describe and assess the safe places that can be used under evacuation
- Assess the risk that persons cannot be evacuated to a safe place and demonstrate that risk is reduced as much as is reasonably practicable.