Managing Risks Inherent to Front-Line Jobs
Ensuring the safety of industrial facilities means:
- Implementing safety rules from the design of facilities.
- Using recognized technical standards;
- Enforcing and improving operating procedures.
- Efficient maintenance and inspection operations.
- Managing the skills of all staff.
As an example, a directive on conducting "sensitive operations in terms of safety" was issued in 2006. It recommends meticulous planning and coordination of such operations, reinforced supervision during their execution and preparation for certain maneuvers in the event of accidents.
Risk management also involves reinforcing the skills of operators in charge of running units. We rely on simulation tools to train our staff for new facilities or to maintain their skills by practicing existing processes.
The Safety Inspection Task Force
In 2009, we were confronted with a series of very serious accidents.
Due to these exceptional circumstances and in addition to regular audits performed throughout the year, we decided to launch a general inspection of 13 French sites presenting technological risks and representative of our business: six refineries, two petrochemical plants, three fertilizer sites, one hydrocarbon production facility and one natural gas storage unit.
Our objective was to determine:
- Why potentially high-risk situations still occur in our facilities.
- Why a significant variation persists between our requirements and practices in the field.
From September 2009 to January 2010, eleven professionals from all fields in the Group questioned hundreds of people on seven themes (conducting operations, outside companies, managing skills...). In addition to reports for each site, their work produced 58 practical recommendations designed to reinforce requirements for the most important processes and rules for their implementation at all of our sites and facilities.
While the Safety Inspection Task Force observed that operations on our sites are based on a robust foundation, particularly the professionalism of our teams, however, at all time we must ensure that it remains sound.
This foundation, which ensures our control of operations, consists in technical standards, organizational procedures and operating rules that must be followed to the letter to avoid potential failures.
To be effective in all these areas, management must shift its priorities towards the field and use its leadership to guide its teams. It is in the field that examples must be given, non-compliance with rules must be dealt with and operational standards must be maintained at their highest level.
The recommendations published by the Safety Inspection Task Force concern the Group in general and all its entities. They are important components in jump-starting progress in the field of safety.
When the task force was launched, the Group decided to share its conclusions with its stakeholders – employee representatives, media, administrative authorities – this is also one of the aims of this document.
To know more, read the interview of Gérard Roussel, General Manager of the Normandy refinery and head of the task force.
One of the most effective techniques for improving safety consists in setting up a procedure for reporting incidents and sharing lessons learned. This process is called feedback.
After each serious accident or significant "near miss", inside or outside the Group, fact sheets are written up, describing the circumstances and consequences of the incident, analyzing its causes and formulating practical recommendations. The purpose is to learn practical lessons, share them and ensure that each entity concerned benefits from them.
The richness and importance of lessons learned from accidents can also lead to initiatives that can affect all or part of the Group's businesses in certain cases.