We work to deliver energy responsibly and safely, while looking after our employees, contractors, local communities and the environment. We strive to help improve safety performance throughout the energy industry.
Shell’s Goal Zero ambition is to achieve no harm and no leaks across our operations. To accomplish this, we focus on the three areas of safety with the highest risks in our activities: personal, process and transport.
We work relentlessly to strengthen our safety culture and leadership: this means caring for people, and includes a focus on learning from incidents within Shell and other companies.
- A process safety incident is any leak or spill of hazardous material. In 2016, we achieved our lowest ever total for both Tier 1 and 2 operational process safety events. (See also Safety performance).
- In 2016, we continued to work with contractors to improve our safety performance and learn from incidents. (See also Contractors and suppliers).
Safety leadership and culture
Employees and contractors, wherever they work, must meet our safety standards and requirements. We strive to reduce risks as far as is technically and financially feasible, and to minimise the potential impact of any incident. These standards also apply to any joint ventures that we operate.
Shell employees and contractors must follow our 12 Life-Saving Rules, which cover the most critical safety hazards that have caused loss of life in our activities. Since their introduction in 2009, the rules have helped achieve a notable reduction in fatalities and injuries.
Embedding a safety culture
Shell has made great progress in improving our safety performance and Goal Zero is firmly embedded in all our work. However, incidents and near misses still occur.
We work relentlessly to strengthen our safety culture, focusing on caring for people and leadership commitment. A strong safety culture is complemented by a skilled workforce. We ensure that people responsible for tasks involving a significant safety hazard have the necessary training and skills. Our safety experts work in networks to share and implement best practices around the world.
Learning from incidents
We investigate all incidents and endeavour to learn from them. Since 2014, more than 80,000 employees and contractors have participated in learning sessions that focus on an incident which presented potential risks to safety. Participiants discussed how incidents could have been prevented and ways to apply lessons in their line of work.
We also learn from what we call high-potential incidents - incidents with no consequences but which, under slightly different circumstances, could have led to people or facilities being harmed. For example, an analysis of high-potential incidents in our wells organisation has led to a focus on preventing dropped objects. This has helped to achieve a 40% reduction in high-potential incidents involving dropped objects in 2016.
“Simply sharing incident information with people is not enough for effective learning. We need to understand more about exactly how adults learn from incidents. With this in mind, Shell and the UK industry body Energy Institute sponsored us to observe Shell employees at refinery sites in the UK and Canada.
We pinpointed a critical learning stage that is often missed: considering how incidents specifically relate to your line of work and how you can adapt your practices to prevent future incidents.
We developed a toolkit that encourages reflection and allows sites to improve the measurement of incidents. The Open University is now working with Shell to investigate the impact on learning of informal communication networks, such as talking with colleagues on site, and other ways to improve the flow of incident information for safer working.”
Professor of Learning Technology and Academic Director of Digital Innovation, The Open University, UK
We employ a large number of contractors who often perform activities with high safety risks. We work with our contractors to ensure they understand our safety requirements and we help them build skills and expertise to improve their safety performance where needed.
Since 2014, executives from Shell have partnered with the chief executive officers of 14 major contracting companies to identify practical steps for safety improvements and strategies for achieving our Goal Zero ambition. The executive pairs have sponsored new safer ways of working in project delivery and facilities maintenance. Senior leaders at engineering company Amec Foster Wheeler and Shell, for example, worked together to simplify safety processes on North Sea platforms.
With our shipping and maritime partners, we have taken steps to improve safety since 2012, including the quality and consistency of their safety management tools. Between 2011 and the end of 2016, the number of serious or potential incidents across Shell Shipping & Maritime’s contracted companies was reduced by more than half.
Raising industry standards
Shell strives to help improve safety performance throughout the energy industry. We share our safety experience and standards with other operators, contractors and professional groups. These include the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP), the American Petroleum Institute and the Energy Institute.
For example, Shell is leading a task force within the IOGP to develop a set of standardised safety requirements in construction projects in the oil and gas sector.
Safety in deep water
Shell has a long history of working safely in deep water - that is, offshore oil and gas production at depths greater than 300 metres. Today, technological advances enable us to work in water up to 10 times that depth.
At Shell, we continually review our procedures to keep our deep-water operations safe and reliable. These include the onshore surveillance of wells using advanced sensors that measure ocean conditions, and high standards of training.
For example, our training centre in Louisiana, USA, has equipment that replicates conditions on an offshore deep-water platform. Operators are trained in global and US health, safety and environment procedures. In Nigeria, our focus on deep-water training has helped launch the first generation of Nigerian energy engineers.
We regularly test our oil-spill emergency response procedures and capability to ensure employees and contractors can respond rapidly to an incident. We continue to work with the oil and gas industry to further develop effective oil-spill emergency response capabilities.
During drilling operations, we gather and analyse information about deep-water wells to better understand the geology of the area. Real-time pressure and temperature sensors track conditions so that we can immediately detect any changes. Shell-operated drilling activities are monitored from a global network of onshore operating centres which allows oversight and timely technical support.