02 December 2013

Hazards Australasia inaugural success

Hon. Bill Marmion MLC

“There is no room for complacency” or “get worried when you receive ‘0’ LTI reports” was the catchcry of IChemE’s inaugural Hazards Australasia process safety conference held in Perth, Western Australia this week. More than 130 delegates heard from a range of speakers who shared lessons learned from the aviation, defence, shipping, oil and gas, water, legal, regulatory and risk management consultancy sectors.

Minister for mines and petroleum; housing, the Hon Bill Marmion opened the conference warning that new lessons can always be learnt:“Government, industry and regulators need to work together to improve outcomes...Safety goes beyond personal protection equipment and engineering, with attitude and behaviours going a long way to improve safety.”

Woodside chief operations officer, Vince Santostefano discussed the organisation's safety culture framework distinguishing the obligation of everyone from workers to management and warmed against a one size fits all teaching approach.

“We need to ensure easy access to technical and safety information and not just limit it to PC base and we need to make it easier to do the right thing and written in a manner that is clear.”

Norton Rose Fulbright partner and head of occupational health, safety and security (Asia Pacific) Michael Tooma discussed process safety from a legal prospective, stressing the need to lay the foundation for good safety culture in an organisation using due diligence, safety leadership and practical tips as its cornerstone.

Tooma also proposed the characteristics of a good safety leader and the concept of  “fanatic discipline”; meaning a leader who demonstrates consistency of values over a long period of time: “This initiates predicable decision making where the workforce would know what this leader would say over a particular issue, thereby creating a flexible culture were you trust people who are armed with the right training, to make decisions at the coal face and fostering a culture that delivers on outcomes.”

Keynote speaker and North American aviation veteran, Keith Martinsen, talked about how safety has evolved from the days after WWII when pilots trained for wartime went on to work for airlines.  The problem with this transition was that these pilots were often single minded and had a macho attitude that became a problem in aviation.

“Fortunately behaviours have changed dramatically since then with the adoption of human factors training and a culture of working together being a significant contributor to what is now one of the safest forms of travel today.”

“A confidential reporting system develops trust and shows a corporate commitment that is observable from junior staff to the most senior.”

Martinsen also reported that a key factor to improved aviation safety has been through the sharing of lessons learned with all airline business and aviation industries.

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority’s (NOPSEMA) general manager, investigation and strategic services Jeremy Dunster shared some lessons for industry that included visibility of control measures for major accident events (MAE) controls, well defined SMART performance standards, facilities personnel knowledge and an understanding about performance standards.

IChemE president and chair of Great Britain Health and Safety Executive, Judith Hackitt CBE, closed the event via video link reminding delegates that while some hazards are easy to spot, identifying some of the real process safety concerns requires knowledge and understanding of the process, of analytical techniques and mythologies and of human behaviour: “It means knowing the right questions to ask and not just having an observant pair of eyes.”

“New systems, new procedures will only work for the long term if they are properly engineered, well communicated, understood by everyone, properly maintained and monitored by senior management.

“Collaboration and information sharing on process safety will replace unhelpful turf protection. Corporate lawyers must also be challenged to help us communicate and share and not stand in the way of the process.”

The inaugural Hazards Australasia process safety conference follows on from the success of the IChemE Hazards conference series in the UK and Malaysia. The event provided a forum for international and local experts and safety professionals to discuss the latest developments, best practice and lessons learned from the chemical and process industries. The second Hazards Australasia conference will take place in Q2 2015. For more information contact April Hinde.

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