Whatever systems are in place, there is always a chance a failure will occur. The way an asset owner responds in such an event will have a mitigating effect on the consequences. Being fully prepared for potential failures or emergencies is a critical mitigation that can reduce any impact to people, the environment and the owner’s business.
Being prepared includes:
- Plans and procedures,
- Requisite facilities,
- Appropriate equipment,
- The right training.
All too often, emergency plans end up in a lengthy document which sits on a shelf, gathering dust, with no-one looking at them – or thinking about them – until an emergency arises.
We do not see it that way at Penspen; we want to work with our customers to ensure they are fully prepared and help them use their plan to drive business improvement. As well as preparing an organisation for how to handle an emergency, we believe a robust emergency plan that is regularly tested can also be a powerful tool to drive improvements and increase efficiencies. It can give businesses a greater appreciation of their organisation and the interdependencies within it.
As a basic requirement, an emergency plan should define the strategies and general arrangements for dealing with all pipeline and facility-related emergencies, based on the potential risks that could affect business operations.
These risks should be documented, accessible, clearly communicated and aligned to an operator’s emergency management system.
Plans should be live documents that form part of the arrangements for handling emergencies. Typically, these elements include:
- Equipment, materials and facilities,
- Detailed procedures (in the form of task cards) for dealing with a full range of anticipated scenarios,
- Identified trained personnel who understand their plan, roles and responsibilities, and the use of emergency management tools and resources.
To ensure the plans are effective, it is vital they are regularly tested through drills and exercises to assess and improve emergency response capabilities, including liaison and working arrangements with external organisations.
Plans, and any associated contingency planning, should recognise any statutory requirements, which relate to the handling of various emergency scenarios and also consider any moral and ethical obligations of the operators.
Responses should be practiced and exercised in-line with the operator’s methodology and of course, lessons learned should be implemented as soon as practicable after each event – be that a test or an actual emergency situation.
Definition of pipeline emergencies
An emergency includes:
- A leak from a plant or equipment (pipelines, pipework, ancillary equipment),
- A suspected leak from a plant or equipment,
- Damage to plant or equipment,
- Suspected damage to plant or equipment,
- Full or partial failure of the plant, equipment or monitoring and control system.
Command and management structures
A command and management structure needs to be identified and established and be capable of operating at strategic, tactical and operational levels. It is recognised that not all three levels will always be needed, depending on the scale of the incident; however operators should be well versed in the organisation, control and escalation of developing emergency situations.
Each level of management and responding personnel should be aware and competent to carry out their assigned roles.
For the command of an incident to be managed effectively, then those involved must be:
- Adequately trained,
- Confident in their abilities.
Any person managing an incident has many things to consider, and with an emergency situation there can be many complex and demanding tasks to complete. Clearly, no one person can be expected to manage and remember everything. Penspen’s Emergency Response Plan system will provide prompts to both management and supporting roles.
Communication and understanding of the roles of each level should be promoted and understood by all involved, to ensure time is not wasted gaining an understanding of what is needed when a situation arises.
Penspen aims to assist operators in understanding their responsibilities, organisational capabilities and areas of excellence as well as assisting in gaining an understanding of any gaps within their organisation. We look across the operations to identify and develop as a minimum the following areas:
- Roles and responsibilities,
- Response equipment,
- Training and exercising,
- Reviewing and updating the plan,
- Spill response aids.
- Risk assessment to define likely failure probabilities, failure types and locations,
- Emergency response plans,
- Emergency spares and repairs analysis and development,
- Spare parts inventories,
- Training development and delivery, including live play and scenario based activities.