Oil, Gas and Energy Health and Safety Information
Sheila Pantry, OBE
Occupational health and safety (OSH) information plays a major role in information for the offshore oil and gas industries and access to the information is available through a wide variety of sources. Keeping up-to-date can be a problem because of the wide variety of sources, plus the new legislation requirements, including that emanating from the European Commission.
There is a plethora of information from worldwide sources. The following demonstrates how those responsible for health and safety can successfully navigate through this vast amount of information by using technology, the Internet and particularly the compact disc read only memory (CD-ROM) developments.
OSH information will be found in legislation, codes of practice, research results, journals and newsletters, films and videos, guidance and advice, books, reports, pamphlets, datasheets, standard specifications, translations, microfiche documents, computer databases and databanks, compact disc read only memory (CD-ROM), floppy disc, software programs.
In the United Kingdom (UK) the offshore legislation now requires operators to submit safety cases to the Health and Safety Executive. The specific requirements are in the Offshore Installations (Safety Case) Regulations 1992 as amended and modified and the accompanying detailed guidance. In addition, other OSH legislation applies to the industry. To help the information seeker there are a number of publications which list and also annotate each piece of legislation. The majority of the new OSH legislation now comes from the European Commission and may take the following forms: Regulations, Directives, Recommendations and Opinions.
Computerised legal sources
There are many guides and sources to European offshore legislation such as Daintith and Willoughby's United Kingdom Oil and Gas Law and many other titles applicable to health and safety in the offshore oil and gas industries which are indexed in the HSELINE database from the UK Health and Safety Executive Information Service. HSELINE database appears in the compact disc OSH-ROM. Likewise indexed are many journals, conference proceedings, specific report series, standards, translations, reports, legislation, codes of practice etc.
There are a number of other computerised services containing OSH legal information such as CELEX/JUSTIS - the official database of the European Communities in full text as it is published in the Offical Journal of the European Communities. HSELINE also gives references to all appropriate Acts and Statutory Instruments (SIs), and to relevant EC OSH legislation appearing in the L and C series of the Official Journal.
Two other major sources of OSH information can be found in OSH-CD and OSH-OFFSHORE both contain the full text of legislation. In OSH-CD there are over 600 pieces of OSH legislation plus various interpretations. Examples include the full text of the "six pack" of new legislation - The Management of health and safety at work Regulations 1992, Health and Safety (Display screen equipment) Regulations 1992, Personal protective equipment at work regulations 1992, Workplace (Health, safety and welfare) Regulations 1992, Manual handling operations regulations 1992, and Provision and use of work equipment regulations 1992.
OSH-OFFSHORE contains the full text of all appropriate legislation for the offshore oil and gas industry. An example is the Statutory Instrument 1992 no. 79 The Offshore Installations (Safety Zones) Order 1992. Also included in OSH-OFFSHORE is the Green Book Offshore installations: guidance on design construction and certification.
Over the years research projects have contributed to the wealth of information available, and in particular to the OSH scene. Amongst the many research reports the Offshore Technology Reports (OTH) and the Offshore Technology Information (OTI) series originally produced by the UK Department of Energy and now by the UK Health and Safety Executive cover a very wide range of topics from scaling of underwater concrete repair materials to a wave atlas of the British Isles, and a critical review of wire rope endurance research affecting offshore applications. These are indexed in HSELINE and appear full text in OSH-OFFSHORE.
Other research reports are also produced by other worldwide organisations and these are referenced in a number of publications, bibliographies and reading lists as well as being published in conference proceedings. These documents are referenced in HSELINE in the OSH-ROM CD-ROM. Organisations such as Bureau Veritas, Institute of Petroleum, Institution of Chemical Engineers, Marine Technology Directorate Ltd and the UK Offshore Operators Association will send catalogues or lists of the research reports available.
Some research reports are never published in the normal way but nevertheless are very useful documents. These reports are known as "grey literature", and many are listed in the European Communities System for Indexing Grey Literature in Europe otherwise known as the SIGLE database which is available on CD-ROM.
The research information seeker will also need to search through many of the world's databases and CD-ROMs such as APILIT, HSELINE, NTIS, OSHROM, OSH-CD, OSH OFF-SHORE to obtain a comprehensive list of research projects.
There are numerous journals which contain OSH information. Some of the journals are scientific, others cover trade and technical issues.
For basic occupational safety and health information, the following are indexed: Health and Safety Commission Newsletter, Health and Safety at Work, Health and Safety and Environment Bulletin, Occupational Safety and Health (ROSPA), Safety and Health Practitioner (IOSH), and Safety Management (BSC). Some journals which are oil industry based and contain health and safety information such as North Sea Letter and Oil and Gas Journal are also indexed in HSELINE.
Valuable information appears in all languages and is constantly being translated into other languages, particularly English. A number of organisations worldwide are prolific in their translating programmes and deposit their translations with a number of document supply centres. In the UK the British Library Document Supply Centre (BLDSC) not only collects these translations but indexes them into a journal entitled British Reports, Translations and Theses. There is also a database TransIndex which is available for checking if the report or article has been translated. The Health and Safety Executive Information Service deposit their translations at the BLDSC as well as indexing them in the HSELINE database.
The move towards greater harmonisation of standards has increased the flow of standard specifications from Europe, from International organisations, and from other countries as well as the UK. Again these will be found indexed in various databases such as CISDOC from the International Labour Office Health and Safety Centre, Geneva and NIOSHTIC produced by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and HSELINE.
There are a number of databases and CD-ROMs which are now available referencing the standards or giving the full text of the standard e.g. American Petroleum Institute and the British Standards Institution. Technology has enabled the user to quickly access the latest standard specification and be confident that the latest edition or amendment has been indexed or incorporated.
Many databases appear both as online services and also in CD-ROM format. The scene is changing rapidly, check with the information producer for details.
For chemical and material safety datasheets, CD-ROMs such MSDS-CCOHS, produced by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety are available on SilverPlatter software. There is also CHEM-BANK CD which contains OHMTADS, RTECS, CHRIS and HSDB databases from a number of US sources including the US Environmental Protection Agency. The Dictionary of Substances and their effects (DOSE) edited by M Richardson, published by Royal Society of Chemistry in seven volumes is also available Online.
List of organisations, libraries and information services
An authoritative, validated list of Organisations concerned with health and safety information is produced and updated on a regular basis by the Health and Safety Executive Information Service. This list which contains details of organisations involved with the offshore oil and gas industry and there is a symbol adjacent to the relevant organisations name denoting that interest is available on the full text OSH-CD.
As stated in the introduction there is a wealth of relevant health and safety information for the offshore oil and gas industry, but as can be seen from the details above it is widely scattered across the world and is constantly being updated. Therefore systems need to be set up to ensure that those responsible for health and safety are as up to date as possible.
Since the Piper Alpha disaster there has been an enormous growth of health and safety information available relating to the offshore oil and gas industry. There is the requirement to keep The Living Documents updated.
Therefore, by keeping up to date in all areas affecting the industry, from results of new research which reviews and critically appraises current knowledge and technology and indicates any areas of significant uncertainty, to acquiring new guidance and advice from the competent authorities, and being aware of the many changes in workplace practices required by the new legislation.
Successfully accessing and retrieving data by using computer technology, and in particular CD-ROM technology will ensure that the information seeker, whether onshore or offshore, will be able to keep up to date in this fast moving area of health and safety information.
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