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Our approach to safety

Shell’s Powering Progress strategy is underpinned by our focus on safety. We aim to do no harm to people and to have no leaks across our operations. We call this our Goal Zero ambition.

We seek to improve safety by focusing on the three areas where the safety risks associated with our activities are highest: personal, process and transport. We strive to reduce risks and to minimise the potential impact of any incident, with a particular emphasis on the risks with the most serious consequences if something goes wrong.

In 2020, we started a multi-year process of refreshing our approach to safety for all employees and contractors. Our updated approach is rooted in a consistent focus on human performance. We aim to better understand the gap between how we anticipate work will be done safely and how the work is actually carried out. We work to prevent incidents by maintaining safety barriers and providing training. We acknowledge that people make mistakes and not all incidents may be preventable. We continue to focus more on installing adequate controls to create capacity to fail safely. With that, we believe that we will enhance our safeguards and reduce the likelihood of serious injuries.

People are key to executing complex tasks and to finding solutions to problems. We aim to apply a learner mindset, by which we mean the belief that we can always improve, enhance individual capabilities, learn from mistakes and successes, and speak up without being punished. We seek to create conditions that encourage employees and contractors to share ideas and concerns without fear of rejection or punishment.

In 2022, as part of our new approach to our safety programme, we focused on conducting detailed change impact assessments across the Group to assess the extent to which our new safety principles are being integrated. These assessments covered all change areas, including mindset and behaviours, pre-work processes, and relationships with third-party contractors. We completed 49 of 52 assessments of assets, projects, functions and businesses within Shell (the remaining assessment to be completed in 2023). In addition, seven non-operated joint ventures (NOVs) elected to embed elements of our approach to safety in their improvement plans.

We work with a large number of our contractors and suppliers so they understand our safety requirements. We strive to help improve safety throughout the energy industry by sharing our safety standards and experience with other operators, contractors and professional organisations. This helps lead to the standardisation of safety practices within the industry, such as the IOGP-Life Saving Rules, Helicopter Recommended Practices, Site Construction Safety, and programmes from the Energy Institute, e.g. Hearts and Minds for fair event handling.

On November 1, 2022, we welcomed safety leaders from BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, IOGP, TotalEnergies and many others active in the field of capital projects and wells to participate in the first industry Safety Collaboration Forum (SCF) in Houston. Delegates declared their intent to continue to play an active role in making the industry safer and more efficient.

Personal safety

We continue to strengthen the safety culture and leadership among our employees and contractor staff. This aligns with our focus on caring for people. The set of nine industry Life-Saving Rules came into effect at Shell on January 1, 2022. By the end of 2022, around 126,000 staff and contractors had completed our mandatory e-learning on the new rules.

We expect everyone to consider two aspects when performing their tasks: the hazards that could potentially cause serious harm, and the effectiveness of the barriers in place to avoid serious harm if something goes wrong. We have ongoing safety awareness programmes, and hold an annual global Safety Day to give employees and contractors time to reflect on how to prevent incidents and how to work together to improve performance.

In 2022, our annual Safety Day explored how we are all connected to the work that we do, and how our actions can create a chain of events that can influence the decisions and actions of others, including at the frontline.

We continue to learn from safety incidents. For example, in 2021, six contractor personnel and one government security agent lost their lives after their convoy came under attack on the way to the Assa North Project site in Nigeria. After the investigation into the incident, we shared information materials across Shell to raise awareness and encourage reflection and learning.

In 2022, we completed the construction of the Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex in the USA with more than 67 million work hours without fatality. During the building of a floating production storage and offloading vessel for the Shell-operated Penguins field (Shell interest 50%) in the UK North Sea, the China Offshore Oil Engineering Company (COOEC) achieved 16 million hours without fatality or serious injury.

Process safety

Process safety management is about keeping hazardous substances inside pipes, tanks and vessels, and ensuring that well fluids are contained during well construction and well intervention so that they do not harm people or the environment. It starts at the design and construction stage of projects and continues throughout the life cycle of facilities to ensure they are safely operated, well maintained and regularly inspected.

Our global standards and operating procedures define our expectations for the controls and physical barriers required to reduce the risks of incidents. For example, offshore wells must be designed with at least two independent barriers in the direction of flow, in order to reduce the risk of an uncontrolled release of hydrocarbons. For the event of a loss of containment such as a spill or a leak, our standards require the use of independent recovery measures to stop the release from becoming catastrophic. We regularly inspect, test and maintain these barriers to ensure they meet our standards.

Working with industry stakeholders, customers and suppliers is critically important to achieve our process safety ambitions.

We strive to learn not only from leaks that have happened, but also from potential events that were prevented by our barriers, such as avoided leaks which might have caused significant harm to assets and people.

In 2022, there were no Level 1, or Level 2, well control incidents in Shell-operated ventures.

Emergency response

We routinely prepare and practise our emergency response to potential incidents, such as a spill or a fire. This involves working closely with local emergency services and regulatory agencies to jointly test our plans and procedures. Shell requires key operating assets to test their emergency response preparedness every three years. In 2022, we held four large-scale emergency response exercises to ensure we have the required preparedness at assets we operate in Brazil, Nigeria, the Philippines and the US Gulf of Mexico.

Transport safety

Transporting large numbers of people, products and equipment by road, rail, sea and air poses safety risks. We seek to reduce these risks by developing best-practice standards within Shell. We also work with specialist contractors, industry bodies, non-governmental organisations and governments to find ways of reducing transport safety risks.

Road safety

In 2022, Shell employees and contractors drove around 456 million kilometres on business in more than 50 countries, a decrease of around 3% compared with 2021.

In Pakistan, a contractor colleague died during road transport activities under operational control of Shell. The number of severe motor vehicle incidents increased from nine in 2021 to 14 in 2022.

In 2022, around 40,000 Shell employees and contractors completed some form of in-vehicle or virtual defensive driving training.

In 2022, we installed active fatigue and distraction detection (AFDD) devices in around 2,400 vehicles operated by Shell or our contractors in countries where road transport risks are highest. By end of 2024, we aim to complete the installation of AFDD devices in vehicles operated by Shell, including both contractor and Shell-owned vehicles.

Shell employees in protective clothing and helmets at the Foothills project, Canada. (photo)
People are key to executing complex tasks and to finding solutions to problems.

Safety at sea

At the end of 2022, we managed and operated a global fleet of 25 tankers, liquefied natural gas carriers, and the world’s first liquefied hydrogen carrier, the Suiso Frontier.

Air safety

In 2022, for Shell-operated ventures, our owned and contracted aircraft flew more than 35,000 hours and safely carried more than 266,000 Shell employees and contractors to destinations all over the world. In addition, remotely piloted aircraft safely completed close to 1,000 hours of survey and inspection flights.

See our website for more information on transport safety.

Safety and technology

Shell has been a pioneer in the development and deployment of digital technologies for decades, including those that help keep people and our operations safe. For example, we use smart sensors, which can be fixed, robot-mounted or carried by personnel, and are inter-connected so that they can gather and share data. Sensors can scan large areas across an asset to help detect leaks. Data analytics can reveal trends, which enables real-time risk assessment and timely interventions. Data analytics can reveal trends, which enables real-time risk assessment and timely interventions.

Contractor safety

Executives from Shell and our major contractor companies have collaborated on Shell’s contractor safety leadership (CSL) programme since 2014. The programme seeks to identify strategies and practical ways to improve a shared safety culture and achieve our Goal Zero ambition of no harm and no leaks.

Importance of contractor safety for Shell

Shells strategyPowering ProgressUnderpinned by our core values of honesty, integrity and respect for people, and ourfocus on safety.Goal ZeroNo harm. No leaks.Contractorsafetymanagementin ShellShell supplychainmanagementWe want every contractor that works for us to go home safely every day23contractor companies in CSL programme80m+exposurehoursannually62%share of contractor exposure hours in Shell-operatedventuresShell-contractorsafety leadership (CSL)550,000+direct employees (total for all CSL members)Majority of the high-risk work is performed byour contractors$41.5 billionspent on goods and servicesin 2022 globally~24,000global supplier/contractor companies in 2022In partnership with our key contractorsShellsstrategyGoal ZeroNo harm. No leaks.Contractorsafetymanagementin ShellWe want every contractorthat works for us to gohome safely every dayMajority of the high-riskwork is performed byour contractors62%share of contractor exposurehours in Shell-operatedventuresShell supplychainmanagementIn partnership with ourkey contractors~24,000global supplier/contractorcompanies in 2022Powering ProgressUnderpinned by our core values of honesty, integrityand respect for people, and our focus on safety.$41.5 billionspent on goods and servicesin 2022 globally23contractor companiesin CSL programmeShell-contractorsafety leadership(CSL)80m+exposure hoursannually550,000+direct employees (total for all CSL members)

We have worked with contractors on standardisation and simplification of safety procedures, and collaborated to develop a contractor safety leadership initiative called Declared Future. We believe these efforts have helped to align our organisations and improve frontline safety.

Our transition to the industry Life-Saving Rules also brings us closer to the standard shared by most of the main contractor companies in our contractor safety leadership programme which was something they had requested of us.

Safety performance

Regrettably, in 2022, two of our contractor colleagues in Shell-operated ventures lost their lives in the course of their work for Shell. One contractor colleague in Nigeria died from injuries sustained during a fire incident. In Pakistan, a contractor colleague died during road transport activities under operational control of Shell.

On March 3, 2023, in Nigeria at the site of an illegal connection used for crude theft a fire incident occurred on the Rumuekpe - Nkpoku trunk line which was not operational at the time. There are confirmed fatalities and investigations are ongoing.

The Shell organisation feels these losses deeply. We are determined to learn from these incidents and do everything possible to prevent anything similar from happening again. We continue to work closely with our contractors to help build a strong safety culture at the frontline.

Several industry safety leadership groups confirm that serious and high-potential incidents often have different root causes than most lower-consequence events. To improve insights from incident investigations and data analysis, we changed how we report incidents. Since 2021, we measure the number of serious injuries and fatalities per 100 million working hours, instead of the Total Recordable Case Frequency, which measured injuries per million working hours. The Serious Injury, Illness and Fatality Frequency (SIF-F) allows us to focus our investigations on the most serious incidents. The aim is to collect and analyse relevant, high-quality data that can help us improve our efforts to prevent serious injuries and fatalities.

In 2022, the SIF-F was 1.7 injuries and illnesses per 100 million working hours, compared with 6.9 in 2021.

The number of Tier 1 and 2 operational process safety events in 2022 decreased significantly compared with 2021. There were 66 incidents reported during the year compared with 103 in 2021.

For reporting on process safety, in this Report, we combine Tier 1 and 2 events. A Tier 1 process safety event is an unplanned or uncontrolled release of any material from a process, including non-toxic and non-flammable materials, with the greatest actual consequence resulting in harm to employees, contract staff or a neighbouring community, damage to equipment, or exceeding a defined threshold quantity. A Tier 2 process safety event is a release of lesser consequence.

As part of Shell’s learner mindset approach, we investigate all serious incidents so we can understand the underlying causes, including technical, behavioural, organisational and human factors. We share what we learn widely, including with contractors. We implement mitigations at the site and in the country and business where the incident occurred. We seek to turn incident findings into improved standards or better ways of working that can be applied widely across similar facilities.

Additional information on our 2022 safety performance is expected to be published in the Shell Sustainability Report in March 2023.

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