Safety performance in 2017: fewer fatalities than ever – but still not good enough

Last year, according to reports filed by 45 IOGP member companies, the fatal accident rate (FAR) associated with global upstream operations fell by 36% from the previous year. The number of fatalities decreased from 50 in 2016 to 33 in 2017. This fall occurred during a time when the number of reported work hours increased by 4%. While the number of fatalities was down, the number of fatal incidents increased from 29 in 2016 to 30 in 2017.

Those were among the main findings of IOGP’s flagship data report: the annual Safety Performance Indicators for 2017, published on 19 June. It records the best performance since the Association began collecting safety incident data from members in 1985. Today, IOGP’s safety data base is the industry’s largest. Of the 33 fatalities reported, seven were related to company personnel; 26 were contractor-related.

Analysis of the 30 fatal incident descriptions (accounting for the 33 fatalities) showed that 87% reported in 2017 related to the IOGP Life-Saving Rules (IOGP Report 459) published in March 2012.

Fatalities figure: Number of fatalities and fatal accident rate (2008–2017)
Number of fatalities and fatal accident rate (2008–2017)

A look at the top three causes of the fatal incidents shows that there has been no change since IOGP first began collecting such details in 2010. Then, as now, they involvedin 2010. Then, as now, they involved:

  • Organizational inadequacy in identifying hazards or assessing risk
  • Personal inattention, lack of awareness, improper decisionmaking or lack of judgment
  • Inadequate work standards and/or procedures

Looking at personal injury performance, the new report shows that the total recordable injury rate decreased by 7% compared with 2016 results. The 2017 lost time injury frequency was virtually unchanged with the previous year.

Commenting on the report’s findings, IOGP Executive Director Gordon Ballard had mixed feelings. ‘It’s encouraging to learn that we have had fewer fatalities than ever in global upstream operations, but even a single death is one too many. It’s also worth emphasising that there was no real reduction in the number of fatal incidents,” Gordon says.

“For me, the haunting statistic is that 87% of fatal incidents related to IOGP’s Life-Saving Rules – which means that there is a good chance that many of those people might still be alive if the Rules had been followed. That’s why we’re encouraging all of our members – and the wider industry – to adopt the Life-Saving Rules and ensure that controls are in place to enable every worker to do a job in a way that complies with the Life-Saving Rules.”

Gordon also expressed his gratitude to those IOGP Member Companies that contributed their data for use in the IOGP report. “Their continuing cooperation allows us to analyse what has gone wrong in safety terms and to propose effective safety initiatives to correct those failings.”

To see or download the full report, visit the IOGP bookstore.

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