The Oil & Gas industry is characterised by remote exploration locations and isolated pumping stations upstream, and by highly complex and dangerous industrial refineries and gas plants downstream.
“In 2016, 74% of Lost Workday Injuries (LWIs) were caused by
Slips, Trips and Falls
The Oil & Gas industry is characterised by the need to work:
• at risk of exposure to flammable gas and chemical emissions, fire and explosions
• in oxygen-deficient atmospheres, and/or with hazardous materials/wastes
• in close proximity to process equipment and heavy machinery
• at risk of being struck by large/heavy moving objects
• in confined spaces
• at height
• in high noise environments
• with vibrating tools / machinery (HAV)
• using repetitive movements or in awkward body postures (risk of musculoskeletal disorders)
These hazards all contribute to the range of health and wellbeing issues Oil & Gas workers are exposed to every day – slips, trips & falls, being struck by falling objects, crush injuries, explosions/burns, exposure to noise, and exposure to harmful substances.
Wearable Technologies’ suite of solutions mitigates these risks and promote worker safety, wellbeing and productivity for both upstream and downstream Oil & Gas facilities.
CASE STUDY : Enhancing Process Safety
The Process Safety Challenge
The safety impact of hydrocarbon (or gas) releases is well known to the Oil & Gas Industry – representing a significant risk to both front line workers and the plant in terms of fatigue, cognitive impairment, suffocation, fire, and explosion.
And, the impact of a safety incident can cause significant short-term and longer term damage to the company financially, commercially and in terms of public image.
Today, fixed gas detection systems are used to detect these gas releases. However, a recent HSE report reveals that an average of 52% of gas releases were not detected by the fixed gas detection systems – 86% of these missed gas releases were detected by the field worker via smell, sound or visually.
As existing Oil & Gas infrastructure ages, these figures are expected to deteriorate further unless action is taken soon, representing an increasing risk to the workers, asset and owner.
So what can be done to address this challenge?
Extending Traditional Fixed Gas Detection
Fixed gas detectors are typically installed in potentially hazardous areas to detect gas releases and protect plant and personnel.
However, the ability for fixed gas detection systems to detect the gas release can be influenced by several factors including the weather/wind and the installed position of the detector relative to the release location. Fixed gas detection systems are typically found in areas where gas releases are expected, and less concentrated in areas where releases are less expected to occur – cost can also influence the number of installed gas detectors per area.
Of the total gas releases indicated in the HSE report, 70% of these were detected in Zone 2 areas and 10% in Unclassified areas. Smaller gas releases were not counted, therefore an opportunity may exist to detect smaller releases before they escalate into more serious releases.
Adding more fixed gas detection systems to complement the existing fixed systems may close the gap slightly, but this is unlikely to be the most cost-effective, time efficient or flexible way to address the challenge.
So is there another way?
A better way of working – Worker as a Sensor
Field workers who regularly work on onshore and offshore Oil & Gas installations are familiar with the portable gas detectors which they wear. These devices alert the worker of the presence of gas when gas levels are above acceptable levels, prompting the worker to leave the area and limiting the exposure effects on the worker.
Many of these portable gas detectors alert the worker, but do not alert co-workers or the control room in real-time. Similarly, location is not tracked with the gas levels to determine the gas level, when and where. Until now.
The Wearable Technologies SmartPPE platform augments existing PPE garments to provide intelligence to support and alert the field worker – enhancing the capabilities of existing portable gas detectors, adding realtime connectivity, location, additional sensors, and more.
Equipping field workers with this intelligent platform enables gas to be “sniffed” and recorded together with location and timestamp as the worker walks around the plant or performs their current task – effectively using the operator or technician’s daily workflow as an early warning sensor – and automatically monitoring the environment around them in all areas as they perform their daily tasks, helping to improve situational awareness for the worker, co-workers, the control room, remote teams/experts and management.
Data captured by these field workers has the potential to deliver a new level of granularity, accuracy and insight related to gas releases since the workers are likely to be closer to the release source than the fixed gas detectors, enabling earlier detection and more focused root cause analysis and resolution. Better quality data related to the rate of change of the gas release, size and location also helps to better prioritise the leaks which need to be fixed first. The potential for worker exposure can also be mitigated to ensure workers are not unnecessarily being put at risk by workers in areas of increasing levels of gas.
So how could this new way of working benefit your business?
Boosting the bottom line
- Increased revenue and profit – faster gas release detection, including in Zone 2 and Unclassified areas, increases the level of mitigation against loss of containment or unplanned shutdown, potentially saving £millions.
- Reduced commercial risk to your business – in terms of fines, reputational damage, reduced revenue, and higher insurance premiums.
- Reduced operational risk – in terms of the plant and worker safety.
- Improved environmental performance
For more information on the Connected Industrial Worker platform, contact WTL today.
Wearable Technologies Limited
Unit 12, Warrens Business Park
Tel: +44 (0)1455 563 000