Thousands of offshore wells have been drilled, some with extreme difficulty. However, information on near misses or the events that might have caused near misses is rarely exchanged through the trade literature or professional meetings. The committee is unaware of any publicly available database on near misses and their causes, specifically for the Gulf of Mexico. There appears to be an industrywide reluctance to disseminate information on such events; most companies retain the information for internal use, except when they are required to reveal it.

Fostering Safety Culture

Summary Recommendation 5.5: Industry should foster an effective safety culture through consistent training, adherence to principles of human factors, system safety, and continued measurement through leading indicators.

Leading indicators provide ongoing assurance that risks are being adequately controlled. An example of a leading indicator would be a measure of preparedness to manage an emergency situation. One component of that measure would be the training sessions conducted by an offshore team. [See HSE (2006) and OECD (2008) for other examples.]

Recommendation 5.5a: The committee endorses the concept of a “center for offshore safety” to train, monitor the work experience of, and certify (license) personnel. Leadership of the center should involve persons affiliated with one or more neutral organizations that are outside of the petroleum industry.

Recommendation 5.5b: Effective response to a crisis situation requires teamwork to share information and perform actions. Training should involve on-site team exercises to develop competent decision making, coordination, and communication. Emergency team drills should involve full participation, as would be required in actual emergency situations, including a well blowout. Companies should approach team training as a means of instilling overall safety as a high priority.

Recommendation 5.5c: Use of training simulators similar to those applied in the aerospace industry and the military should be considered. Approaches using simulators should include team training for coordination of activities in crisis situations.

Each operating company, service provider, and drilling contractor has been viewed by the oil and gas industry as responsible for its own training.

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