In 2005, a refinery explosion in Texas City killed 15 people and injured 180 others. In 2010, a well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 and spilled millions of gallons of oil. In 2015, an Azeri oil platform caught fire in the Caspian Sea, killing an estimated 30 workers.
Employees in the oil & gas field deal with hazardous, highly-volatile materials on a frequent basis. When something goes wrong in one of these facilities, a situation can cascade into a crisis in a matter of minutes. Extensive industrial infrastructure can transform into a deathtrap in the blink of an eye, and intricate, expensive machinery can be reduced to scrap in mere moments.
A quick response is essential to minimize both damage and loss of life, but this can be difficult in remote facilities.
"Working in offshore and remote locations can limit timely access during emergencies to personnel and assets as well as reduce the initial level of support by outside responders," Marathon Oil Corp's Emergency Preparedness Manager explained to EHS Today. "This may place extended challenges on workers to manage their safety and an initial response until appropriate resources can arrive on scene."
There are three steps one should take in addressing these challenges.
Step One: Visibility and Control
The best way to mitigate a disaster is to prevent it from happening at all. Clear-cut responsibilities, a regular maintenance schedule, and safety regulations and procedures are a must. Embedded sensors can give you insight into the condition of your equipment, and generate alerts when a component of a plant is about to fail.
Step Two: Plan for Failure
Sometimes, no matter how regimented and tightly-controlled you make your facility, a crisis is inevitable. Proper disaster planning is therefore critical for when things go wrong. It is imperative that you understand what types of disasters one of your plants might face at any given time, which regulations impact each facility, and what each employee's role is in the event of a crisis. It is also essential that you have a communication plan in place – a roadblock all its own.
Step Three: Set Up Lines of Communication
To ensure plant-wide safety and reliability, you need to keep your employees connected with one another and with HQ. You must offer real-time alerts on potential problems and developing situations. Moreover, you need to facilitate a quick, efficient emergency response.
This is where the AtHoc Crisis Communication Platform shines. Much more than a warning system, AtHoc provides real-time messaging and alerting for everyone who needs to be reached during a crisis, including staff, first responders, government agencies, and non-participant bystanders. Industrial facilities can use AtHoc to accelerate the process of mustering and accountability for people and resources both during and after an emergency.
Because AtHoc integrates seamlessly with every other component of your communications infrastructure – from Cisco phones and walkie talkies to kill switches and PA systems – on-premises installation is easy and efficient. As one of the most complete, interoperable global crisis tools on the market, its two-way reporting and auditing ensures that lines of communication are never cut. More importantly, it can help reduce insurance costs and make the day-to-day of your facilities more efficient through better communication.
There's no shortage of risk in oil & gas – but there's a better way to manage it. Let AtHoc show you.
Learn more about what AtHoc can do for your business here.