Equinor experienced several serious incidents throughout the year, but also achieved a reduction in the number of serious incidents and personal injuries in 2020 compared to the previous year. The results support a good trend in safety performance during the last decade, but also demonstrate the need for Equinor to further improve its safety work.
“Fires and other serious incidents in 2020 demonstrate that we are not where we need to be in terms of our safety work. We will therefore strengthen this work further to run our operations at an even higher safety level. The progress we see in the number of incidents and personal injuries indicates that we are working on the right measures across the company, and that inspires us in the work ahead,” says Anders Opedal, CEO of Equinor.
According to the 2020 safety statistics of incidents and personal injuries in Equinor, the general development continues in the right direction, both in terms of serious incidents and personal injuries. Last year, the average serious incident frequency per million hours worked (SIF) dropped from 0.6 in 2019 to 0.5. The total recordable injury frequency per million hours worked (TRIF) was reduced from 2.5 to 2.3.
The number of hydrocarbon leaks at onshore plants and offshore installations went up from 10 in 2019 to 11 last year.
Understanding risk and learning from incidents
“We can be motivated by the results and improvements we achieve over time. However, we must understand risk better and demonstrate that we learn from earlier incidents by avoiding new incidents. Only then will we succeed in taking our safety work to the next level,” says Opedal.
In the fourth quarter of 2020, a total of 15 serious incidents and near-misses were recorded in the company. Hydrocarbon leaks, dropped objects, personal injuries and incidents involving processing and production equipment are examples from the last 3 months of last year.
Two serious fires at onshore plants, at Melkøya in September and at Tjeldbergodden in December, are still under investigation. Reports of these incidents are expected to be completed in the first quarter. A total of 67 serious incidents and near misses were recorded in 2020 in Equinor.
Equinor is investigating serious incidents and near-misses to find causes and implement measures. Conclusions and findings are shared across the company and with our partners and suppliers to ensure learning. The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway and other regulatory bodies are also investigating incidents or near-misses in Equinor’s activities.
Enhancing safety to avoid major accidents
“It is important that findings and conclusions from the investigations carried out by us and the authorities lead to learning and are translated into specific actions and measures. We have a long-term perspective on developing our safety culture. The implementation of the ‘I am safety’ initiative is crucial and is about creating a safe workplace for everyone and a culture for speaking out. We are also establishing a project on process safety to further enhance our understanding of risk, compliance and competence to operate our installations, both onshore and offshore, even more safely and avoid major accidents also in the future,” says Opedal.
The project will prepare recommendations and cooperate with responsible areas in Equinor on execution plans for safety measures. Safety delegates and employee representatives will take part in this work. The project will build on findings and recommendations resulting from investigations, verifications and audits in process safety. The purpose of the project is to learn about process safety from other industry players by introducing external expertise. Specific recommendations will be incorporated into existing improvement initiatives.
Cooperation across companies
In 2021, Equinor continues its cooperation on safety in areas where suppliers and operators share experience. A number of companies are currently part of the web-based safety cooperation initiative Always Safe (alwayssafe.no) that was established by Equinor, Aker BP and Vår Energi.
“We have a strong common interest in jointly avoiding any accidents and preparing for a safe and health-promoting working environment. By improving our own effort and the established safety work together with safety delegates and employee representatives, other operators and suppliers and authorities in the time ahead, I am convinced that it will take us a big step closer to the goal of working even more safely,” says Opedal.
“The serious incidents we have experienced show that we need to improve the safety level. There is broad and strong agreement between the management and us employee representatives about the main actions taken to follow up on ‘I am safety’ and the process safety project. We must also work on the issues that the PSA and the PwC report have addressed, and we must together be prepared to follow up additional measures that may be required as a result of the investigation reports presented in the spring,” says Per M. Labråthen, corporate employee representative and leader of Industri Energi Equinor, on behalf of all employee representatives.