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European refiners’ safety performance in 2010

10.01.2011  |  Thinnes, Billy,  Hydrocarbon Processing Staff, Houston, TX

Keywords: [safety] [Europe] [CONCAWE] [LWIF] [lost time] [injuries] [death]

European oil company association CONCAWE started compiling statistical data on safety performance for the European downstream oil industry 17 years ago. The group recently released its safety report for 2010, featuring data from 34 CONCAWE member companies. These companies when combined account for approximately 93% of the refining capacity of the EU-27 countries, plus Norway, Switzerland and Croatia.

The results are reported mainly in the form of key performance indicators that have been adopted by the majority of oil companies operating in Europe, as well as by other industry sectors.

Accident frequencies in the European downstream oil industry are generally at low levels and the 2010 performance continues this trend. Standing at 1.9, the lost work incident frequency (LWIF) indicator for 2010 is less than 2.0, as has been the case since 2007 (this figure is calculated from the number of lost workday injuries (LWIs) divided by the number of hours worked expressed in millions).

For the second consecutive year, CONCAWE members were asked to provide process safety performance indicator (PSPI) data which describe the number of process safety events (PSEs) expressed as unintended loss of primary containment (LOPC). Twenty-four companies provided data in 2010 which represented a significant increase from the 18 companies that responded in 2009. From these responses, a process safety event rate (PSER) indicator of 2.3 for all PSEs was recorded. This is a notable reduction versus the 4.1 recorded in 2009, caused mainly by a significant increase in the working hours of those companies reporting PSE data.

Focus on fatalities.

A total of 14 fatalities were reported for 2010 that were the consequence of 14 independent incidents. Following a steady downward trend during the 1990s, fatality numbers started to increase in 2000. Fatalities reached an alarming peak of 22 in 2003 before substantially trending downward from 2004–2006. Fatalities were recorded at 11 in 2008 and in 2009.

This year manufacturing contractors appeared to be the most vulnerable work group, experiencing 13 fatalities. Clearly, this is of concern and all companies should ensure that the contractor workforce is fully integrated into the companies’ safety monitoring systems. The fatal accident rate (FAR) of 2.68 continues to be at a level similar to that observed in the late 1990s.

The report notes that road traffic accidents clearly decreased compared to earlier years with the rate reaching a plateau from 1999. There was a small reduction in the road accident rate (RAR) in 2010. These accidents essentially occur in the marketing activity where the bulk of the driving takes place.

One point of particular interest is the “safety triangle,” which is the relationship between the total number of recordable incidents or the number of LWIs and the number of fatalities. This diagram is illustrative but not to scale, as shown in Fig. 1. Also shown is a graph of LWI and all recordable incidents (AI) per fatality.


  Fig. 1. The European refining industry’s safety triangle, which is the relationship between the total number of recordable incidents or the number of lost workday injuries (LWIs) and the number of fatalities. Also shown is a graph of LWI and all recordable incidents (AI) per fatality from 1992–2010. 

Fig. 1 illustrates the declining number of fatalities until 1999 whereas the total number of incidents remained fairly constant. The period from 2000–2003 saw a steady increase in fatalities while both AI and LWI were still on a decreasing trend, resulting in a decrease of the ratios. The lower number of fatalities from 2004–2009 reversed the trend resulting in relatively steady ratios with a small positive spike in 2006 when there were only seven fatalities. Despite an increase in fatalities in 2010 the ratios were only slightly reduced. These observations led to the conclusion that the overall improvement in the level of lower severity safety indicators is not necessarily leading to the prevention of the more severe incidents that result in fatalities.

Fig. 2 details the causes of the 14 fatalities recorded in 2010 and Fig. 3 shows the percentage of the main causes over the last five years and for all years since this information was first collected in 1998.


  Fig. 2. Causes of fatalities in 2010. 


  Fig. 3. Causes of fatalities from
  2006–2010 and from 1998–2010. 

The FAR (2.68 per 100 million hours worked) and the total number of fatalities (14) in 2010 were somewhat higher than in 2009, which is of concern. Thirteen of the 14 fatalities were associated with contractors: five (~36%) were caused by burn or electrical incidents, three (~21%) were a result of confined space entry incidents, two (14%) were caused by road accidents, two (~14%) resulted from construction and maintenance, one (~7%) resulted from a fall from height, and one (~7%) was classified as “other.”

For the last five-year period, construction/maintenance/operations activities and road accidents remain the principal causes of fatalities.  HP

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