Decision-Support for Safe Work Planning


Safetec has recently completed an R&D project that has explored how daily activities on a process facility influence the risk for major accidents. The method utilises information from the permit-to-work system and provides decision support to operation and maintenance personnel by highlighting the top risk contributors from day to day, thus enabling them to prioritise and execute tasks both efficiently and safely. The tool helps identify the activities with the highest risk contributions. It uses detailed information from the existing risk analysis of the facility, the status of barriers and combines this with the planned work activities from the electronic permit to work system.

Risk on a process facility is dynamic and influenced to a large extent by the amount and nature of maintenance activities being performed, as well as the condition of the safety critical barriers at the facility. Maintenance is necessary to ensure continued technical integrity of the facility for safe operation. However, at the same time maintenance can itself represent a risk. To understand this here are some examples.

Consider work on hydrocarbon systems. Nearly half of all gas leaks on the Norwegian Continental Shelf are attributed to human error introduced as part of maintenance. Welding is a common task that presents an ignition source in a sensitive hydrocarbon environment. Construction of scaffolding is very often needed to perform work at heights or other hard to reach places. Large scaffolding often hampers ventilation in the area that increases explosion pressure in and around the area concerned.

While a traditional risk analysis, often reported over a thousand pages serves its purpose to document and promote “safe design” of a facility, it is of limited use to operations. Operations have nothing much to gain from looking at the average risk level over one year at a facility. The daily risk level at a facility is dependent on which jobs are being executed at any given point in time, and the current condition of the barriers at the facility.

This is the nucleus of the tool that provides operations with a point-in-time risk level that can be used to plan activities and avoid any peaks in the risk level. With seamless integration in the electronic permit to work system at a facility, the tool enables decision makers to optimise work not only in time and resources, but also based on risk. This is a huge step forward in comparison to how work is planned today at most hazardous facilities.

Project manager, professor Stein Haugen from Department of Marine Technology, says that «Safetec’s contribution to the project has been very important, with their broad practical experience. Combined with creativity and very skilled project members, they have been instrumental in developing a methodology that can be used for practical risk analysis in daily operations.”

The tool has been implemented as a prototype and has been tested on one installation on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. It was successfully tested on the 14-day plan period for maintenance activities and was able to produce a risk profile from day-to-day. By changing aspects of the maintenance program, e.g. date of execution, the risk profiles updates itself, thus making the tool very useful in the maintenance planning process.

The project has been financed by the Norwegian Research Council, Statoil and Gassco, and has been a cooperation between NTNU, Safetec and Preventor. Interested to hear and learn more about this? Contact Nathaniel Edwin (Safety Advisor) at
or +47 944 32 973.


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