Work Environment

Our industry health and safety culture is internationally regarded, stringent and uncompromising, ensuring our workers and the environments they work in are safe

Like many primary industries, oil and gas activity, at times, exposes workers to challenging conditions and situations. Our obligation is an exceptionally strong health and safety culture that is internationally regarded, stringent and uncompromising, ensuring our workers and the environments they work in are safe.

An enviable track record

An enviable track record

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The oil and gas industry’s safety track record over 50 years is solid and impressive.

While primary industry activity can expose workers to challenging environments, Oil and Gas workers are safer and suffer less accidents, in gross quantity and per worker, than all other primary industries in New Zealand.

"New Zealand has never had a major accident resulting in multiple fatalities or injuries in the oil and gas sector but that is not a justification for standing still" - Chris Findlayson, Acting Minister of Labour.

Note: in the tables below as produced by WorkSafe New Zealand, the government agency responsible for overseeing workplace safety, oil and gas statistics are subsumed in ‘mining’ activity. It must be noted that oil and gas has experienced zero fatalities for over 15 years, and of the 285 workplace fatalities over six years, none came from the oil and gas sector.

Note: of the over 25,000 instances of serious harm events in the workplace in New Zealand, the oil and gas sector was responsible for a small portion of 146 events – indicative of a pervasive health and safety culture.

Serious Harm Notifications by Industry 2011-2016

Industry 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016* Total
Accommodation and Food Services 116 127 100 82 72 32 529
Administrative and Support Services 21 48 63 59 81 20 292
Agriculture 320 402 317 289 333 114 1775
Arts and Recreation Services 371 405 311 229 266 112 1694
Construction 658 709 606 514 509 173 3169
Education and Training 1145 1181 674 170 237 78 3485
Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services 76 98 86 49 40 26 375
Financial and Insurance Services 20 29 13 11 10 4 87
Fishing 8 5 11 6 5 1 36
Forestry 182 194 160 107 79 28 750
Health Care and Social Assistance 512 484 393 267 307 93 2056
Information Media and Telecommunications 27 19 14 9 11 3 83
Manufacturing 1137 1136 796 572 589 198 4428
Mining 45 35 20 22 17 7 146
Not Elsewhere Included 100 123 130 103 38 13 507
Other Services 169 199 541 326 98 29 1362
Professional, Scientific and Technical Ser 17 25 28 25 60 8 163
Public Administration and Safety 165 254 161 101 135 44 860
Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services 103 13 13 9 11   149
Retail Trade 435 405 348 220 166 46 1620
Transport, Postal and Warehousing 344 376 351 296 295 95 1757
Wholesale Trade 41 35 34 21 11 5 147
To be confirmed - - - 10 14 11 35
Total 6012 6302 5170 3497 3384 1140 25505

Workplace fatalities by industry

Industry 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016* Grand Total
Accommodation and Food Services - 1 1 - - 1 3
Administrative and Support Services 1 1 - - 1 1 4
Agriculture 16 15 22 23 19 14 109
Arts and Recreation Services 5 8 3 3 3 1 23
Construction 4 9 6 5 2 6 32
Education and Training 1 - 1 - 1 - 3
Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services 3 1 - 1 3 2 10
Fishing, Hunting and Trapping - - - - - 1 1
Forestry 3 6 10 1 3 4 27
Health Care and Social Assistance 3 - 2 2 - 2 9
Manufacturing 2 2 1 1 1 4 11
Mining 1 1 - - 5 1 8
Other Services 5 - 1 1 1 - 8
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services 1 - 1 - - - 2
Public Administration and Safety 1 2 2 3 - - 8
Retail Trade - - - - - 1 1
Transport, Postal and Warehousing - - 1 - - 1 2
Wholesale Trade 3 2 6 8 3 1 23
Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services - - - - 1 - 1
Grand Total 49 48 57 48 43 40 285

 

What is ‘Health & Safety’

What is ‘Health & Safety’

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'Health & Safety' is a term the industry uses to describe the systems and procedures used to protect our workers at all times.

Health and safety activity in New Zealand is designed to meet legislative requirements, as determined by the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) and the Health and Safety at work (Petroleum Exploration and Extraction) Regulations 2016. These regulations provide oversite to the health and safety aspects of all oil and gas activity in New Zealand, such as drilling and production, and hold oil and gas companies accountable by law.

Secondly, health and safety activity is driven by the internal demands of oil and gas companies themselves. Rigorous business and complex operational procedures demand sophisticated health and safety practices, to ensure the ongoing successes of oil and gas projects, and meet both insurance and industry best practice standards.

The science of risk management.

The science of risk management.

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Major commercial and industry activity often requires high level risk assessment and management.

It is the responsibility of oil and gas companies to design, build and operate their facilities within acceptable boundaries of risk.

Effective management of risk allows oil and gas companies to prevent major accidents from occurring in the first place, and leaves the industry confident it’s activities are financially viable, sustainable, and meet New Zealand’s demanding personal and environmental safety standards.

In New Zealand, much of the management of the risk of oil and gas activity is embodied in the preparation and application of the ‘Safety Case’.

Safety by design - 4 times safer than your home.

Due to all-encompassing risk management procedures, oil and gas workers at Production facilities are around four times less likely to experience an accident in their workplace than they are at home.

Production facilities

Safety by design - introducing the Safety Case

Safety by design - introducing the Safety Case

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Every large-scale, permitted oil and gas project must have a 'Safety Case'.

The Safety Case is an exhaustive document defining the design, build and operation of any oil and gas facility.

The Safety Case is required by law, and is submitted by oil and gas companies to the High Hazards Unit, for acceptance as part of the New Zealand Government's Permitting process.

First and foremost, the Safety Case is an accident prevention document. The identification, assessment and management of all hazards is the immediate focus of the Safety Case.

As such, hazard (and risk) management are hardwired into the fundamental systems and procedures of every oil and gas facility, and must result in any risk associated with the operation of the facility being as low as reasonably practical.

Safety by design – the shutdown button.

Earthquakes are unpredictable, but they happen and must be accounted for as part of any risk management plan.

Given New Zealand’s position on the Pacific rim and it's exposure to earthquake activity, production facilities are fitted with a single off switch that shuts down the entire plant immediately in the event of an earthquake.

It’s a very costly button to push, but guarantees the safety of workers, and the stability of their immediate environment in the case of unpredictable earthquake events.

Smaller installations

For smaller size installations, a MAPP (Major Accident Prevention Policy) is required instead of a full Safety Case. A MAPP is a written policy with the aim of preventing the occurrence of major accidents and limit their consequences to people on or near the lower-tier production installation by appropriate means, structures and management systems including the safety management system (SMS).

Lower tier installation produce less that 820 barrels per day, less than 15m cubic feet of gas or less than 50 tonnes liquified flammable gas and natural gas at site.

Safety by design – immediate well closure

All offshore wells have ‘wellheads’ that sit on top of the well itself, and include Blowout Preventers (BOPs). These wellheads are attached to hydraulic lines. If systems above ground fail for any reason, such as an unpredicted earthquake, these hydraulic lines also fail, causing immediate closure of the wellhead and the safe sealing of the well.

Every day safe – explaining ‘Permit to Work’ systems

Every day safe – explaining ‘Permit to Work’ systems

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At oil and gas installations, nothing happens fast.

That’s because anything a worker does is controlled by a multi-layed ‘Permit to work’ system.

‘Permit to work' systems establish methodical procedures for assessing, approving, tracking and monitoring all worker activity, particularly when that work is undertaken in a hazardous or challenging area.

Not only do ‘Permit to work’ systems effectively enhance the safety of individual workers, they ensure that any work is considered in relation to the entire operation, and fits with correct operational, maintenance and change management procedures as established in the Safety Case.

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