By Alex Endress, Editorial Coordinator, and Linda Hsieh, Managing Editor
The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) are preparing to launch a voluntary and confidential near-miss reporting system for the offshore drilling industry. The goal is to build a database of near-miss incidents that are occurring but not being captured into a collective database for analysis, Robert Middleton, BSEE Deputy Chief of the Office of Offshore Regulatory Programs, explained. “This is not a regulator system. We can’t use it to regulate. We can’t use it to write incidents of non-compliance. It is purely one of information gathering and analysis,” he said at the 2015 IADC HSE&T Conference in Houston on 4 February.
Many companies already have their own near-miss reporting systems, and IADC provides the Drilling Near Miss/Hit Report to facilitate the documentation process. However, most data being captured are only being used by individual companies to improve safety. “We’re hopeful that as we increase the database of the data available, we can work with industry to promote increased safety offshore,” Mr Middleton said. “By looking at this near-miss data, looking for leading indicators, we can come up with ways to ensure that these near-misses don’t turn into an event.”
The program will be administered by the BTS, an independent statistical agency covered under the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA). This ensures that all raw data collected would be protected from Freedom of Information Act requests, as well as subpoenas. BTS employees who release confidential information are subject to severe penalties, he pointed out.
While BSEE will be responsible for outreach and communication about the program, BTS will oversee the collection and aggregation of all raw data submitted and issue findings in an official report. Mr Middleton noted that BTS already has statisticians onboard and is preparing to bring in experts in offshore oil and gas to help analyze and assess the data. Reports will not contain any information identifiable to individual companies. “BSEE will not be receiving any advanced copies of this information,” he stressed.
To incentivize participation in this voluntary program, BTS will provide participating companies with a free statistical analysis of their own individual data sets – also protected under CIPSEA. “The company will be able to take this information and compare it against the larger near-miss data information out there and use it to improve the safety of their own operations,” Mr Middleton said. “BTS has committed to do this for any of the companies that come into the system.”
On 2 February, BTS published a notice in the US Federal Register about the near-miss system and will be accepting comments over the next 30 days.
Click here to access the federal public comment forum.