125 HSE incidents reported in 3 years

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BRUNEI reported 125 health and safety incidents within the oil and gas industry over the past three years, according to head of Health, Safety & Environment (HSE) at the Energy Department, Prime Minister’s Office (EDPMO).

Speaking during a HSE forum at Institut Teknologi Brunei (ITB) yesterday, Steve England said there has been a “vast improvement” on incident reporting by industry players thanks to the introduction of the Workplace Safety and Health Order in 2013.

“This has painted a better picture of HSE performance,” he said. “Although there still needs to be more dialogue between government and industry on HSE issues.”

In the past three years, EDPMO investigated 42 of the reported 125 HSE incidents. So far in 2015, EDPMO has recorded 11 HSE incidents, while 2014 saw 52 incidents, and 2013 recorded 62 incidents.

“Of these, we have logged three major accidents as defined in the COMAH regulations… That’s only three major accidents in three years,” England said, explaining the HSE achievements in the oil and gas industry over the past three years.

In August 2013, Brunei introduced the Workplace Safety and Health Order, the first national HSE framework that includes enforcement powers for inspectors.

“This was a tall task for the government, with limited resources, and also a significant change for the industry where for over 80 years there has been a regime of self-regulation with little challenge from a regulatory body,” said England.

As part of the implementation of the new HSE regulations, EDPMO conducted 95 inspections to offshore and onshore oil and gas facilities. These included drilling platforms, petrol stations, power stations, construction sites, schools and hospitals.

As a result of these inspections, EDPMO issued three ‘stop orders’ and four ‘remedial orders’. Two companies have been fined although no prosecution has been taken against any firm.

“A common thread through all the inspections and investigations – and in particular the major accident investigations – is the attitude of the people. Not taking ownership and responsibility and more importantly a lack of accountability for HSE matters,” England said.

“If we continue with the present drive of the regulator taking action on issues… then of course improvements will be made but those improvements will not be sustainable into the future without understanding and ownership.”

England added that the introduction of HSE framework should be the catalyst to improve HSE performance and awareness in Brunei.

“The legal framework raises the bar and expectations of safety performance… EDPMO can facilitate the necessary changes but we need commitment from industry stakeholders such as education establishments to make changes happen.”

The Brunei Times