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Safety and Fitness to Operate


The Fitness to Operate (FTO) Project was the result of a research project sponsored by the International Regulators Forum, a group of ten regulators for health and safety for the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry. One of many challenges faced by regulators is to how to determine if organizations who apply for entry to, or to operate in IRF jurisdictions are fit to operate. FTO is defined here as the ..... organisational capability to manage safety in uncertain and interdependent environments”. Three broad goals are addressed:

  • Assist inspectors, who come from principally technical and operational backgrounds, to discuss human and organizational factors in a structured way using common terms and definitions.
  • Support regulator to regulator discussions using a common framework and evaluation process
  • Have a mechanism through use on an evaluation tool to support discussions on FTO internally within operators, and between the regulators and operators at the entry to regime and through the life cycle of the operations.

Fitness to Operate Report

We have developed a systemic approach to understanding and assessing safety capability in the offshore oil and gas industry. This is presented as a conceptual framework and assessment guide for understanding fitness-to-operate (FTO) that builds a more comprehensive picture of safety capability for regulators and operators of offshore facilities. The FTO framework defines three enabling capitals that create safety capability: organizational capital, social capital, and human capital. For each type of capital we identify more specific dimensions based on current theories of safety, management, and organizational processes. The assessment guide matches specific characteristics to each element of the framework to support assessment of safety capability. The content and scope of the FTO framework enable a more comprehensive coverage of factors that influence short-term and long-term safety outcomes.

Collaborators: W/Professor Mark Griffin (lead author) UWA Centre for Safety and others, see list on the paper listed below

Outputs: Mark A. Griffin, Melinda R. Hodkiewicz, Jeremy Dunster, Lisette Kanse, Katharine R. Parkes, Dannielle Finnerty, John L. Cordery, Kerrie L. Unsworth, A conceptual framework and practical guide for assessing fitness-to-operate in the offshore oil and gas industry, Accident Analysis & Prevention, Volume 68, July 2014, Pages 156-171.

A copy of the journal paper is available for free at http://www.journals.elsevier.com/accident-analysis-and-prevention/ - see the Open Access section.

Funding: NOPSEMA (formerly NOPSA)

Other invited presentations and workshops:

Early life failures of subsea equipment

This review draws on studies of high-reliability manufacturing and process industries to examine the roles of intraorganizational factors (particularly organizational culture) that may promote or detract from the achievement of high reliability in subsea systems. External factors, such as supply chain coordination, are also considered. Studies of organizational change designed to enhance the reliability of design and manufacturing processes are rare in the subsea industry, but relevant issues arising from change initiatives in other organizational settings are discussed. Finally, several areas are identified in which systematic industry based research could contribute to identifying critical elements in the development and operation of subsea systems and, hence, reduce the risk of failures.

Collaborators: Dr. Kathy Parkers, Oxford University (Lead Author) and Professor David Morrison

Outputs: Reported in Parkes K, Hodkiewicz M, Morrison D (2012) ‘Organisational factors in early life failures of subsea equipment’, Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing, Vol 22:6, p.487-505.

Funding: Chevron through WA:ERA

Maintenance Practices and Safety

For many years, the main focus of efforts to improve safety in organisations has been on the operational and not so much the maintenance side of business. However, what does or does not happen during maintenance can have major implications for safety, not only during maintenance work but also once equipment has returned to operational status. Most of the available research linking maintenance factors to safety and other business outcomes is retrospective in nature, i.e. based on the analysis of single (major) accidents or accident databases. There is far less research available that investigates this relationship in a prospective manner and attempts to identify how maintenance practices influence safety and other business outcomes on an everyday basis, rather than in one or a few specific accidents. Typical limitations of this prospective research are that not enough safety performance indicators are included, that only self-report indicators are used, that no peer review was undertaken, or that no repeated measurement/longitudinal design was used, making it difficult to prove causality of identified relationships. This research project is an attempt to overcome such limitations. This project investigates the relationships between maintenance practices and safety, maintenance and operational outcomes in a longitudinal study across a number of different sites, and factors that influence maintenance practices are be identified.

Collaborators: Rio Tinto Safety Group, W/Prof Mark Griffin (UWA Project Leader), Dr. Lisette Kanse, Xioawen Hu (PhD Student), Dr. Kathy Parkes and others from UWA Business School and Psychology Groups.

Funding: Rio Tinto Education Partnership

Centre for Safety at UWA

For an update on current safety related projects please see the UWA Centre for Safety Web Site at http://www.centreforsafety.com.au/

UWA Safety Leadership Award

In 2012 Melinda Hodkiewicz was awarded the UWA Safety Leadership Award for her work as Chair of the Safety Committee for the School of Mechanical and Chemical Engineering 2010-2012. Here is the citation:

“She was appointed chair of the committee in July 2010 and was proactive in developing new safety management policies, procedures and guidelines.

Activities in the School embrace areas such as fuels and alternative energy, gas processing and CO2 sequestration, nano-materials, laser technologies, biological materials and chemical engineering. New directions have created a more complex and challenging health and safety situation than exist in a traditional School of Mechanical Engineering.

Professor Hodkiewicz has excelled in overseeing new health and safety procedures and in instilling a new culture of safety awareness in the School, winning for her the Safety Leadership Award.”

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