Could a mobile safety app have prevented the Deepwater Horizon oil spill?

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Deepwater horizon oil spillStreamlining reporting from the employees in the oil and gas industry by using mobile reporting systems might save environment, money, lives and secure an overall safer oil and gas industry

The time is 9.45 pm in an April day like every other on the platform Deepwater Horizon in the Mexico Gulf. 126 employees were on board the platform, none of them knew what was about to happen. Suddenly high pressure methane rose to the ground and exploded. The crisis was a fact. 11 people tragically died in the explosion and the consequences on the environment would prove to be more fatal than anybody could imagine. Two days after the explosion Deepwater Horizon sank and oil started pouring out of the leak. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was a fact. In 87 days a total of 210 million US gallons float out in the Gulf of Mexico. The consequences on the environment were devastating with severe damage done to the bird and fish life and irreparable damage done to the nature.

Saturday the 22 of March it happened again. The oil spill in Galveston wasn’t nearly as big as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Still, with about 168,000 gallons of oil, huge damage might be done on the nature and wildlife in the area.

Accidents like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill cause damage to the environment, loss of billions of dollars and even human lives.

Oil spill cleanupThese kinds of accidents do take lives, damage the nature and also have huge economic impacts on the parts involved. As of February 2014, BP had paid in total 42.7 billion US dollars.

We may ask ourselves; could anything have been done differently to avoid any of these tragic accidents? After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill several reports was made to uncover the truth about what really happened and what could have been done differently. In their own report British Petroleum points out several mistakes that caused the accident. The ventilation system led the gas into the engine room and the blowout preventer being defect. The investigation report points out that when the errors was discovered, the wrong decisions was made in order to limit the effect of the accident.

Huge accidents might be prevented.

What if these accidents were discovered but not reported? What if the decision makers had access to better data thus could make better decisions? Let’s think hypothetically that an oil worker discovers an error on a platform or a work site. What steps does he need to go through to get this error reported? He is supposed to fill out a form and hand in the form to his supervisor. The supervisor then have to summarize form and send it further. In really big organizations it can take days, even weeks for the Hazard notification to reach the right person using paper based reporting systems. Then it might be too late. With mobile reporting systems, the information can reach the right person in a few seconds.

In addition to being a more efficient way of sharing information a mobile safety app can help you create a culture of constantly improvement and safety. To the employees reporting on paper is stressful and time consuming. The employees might also feel like reporting hazards is useless if they do not see that the reports are being followed up and followed up. SEE Forge create a safety culture where the employees can report hazards just by clicking a few clicks on their cell phone or tablet and then get sorted out in a much quicker way. Instead of being worried of reporting getting in way of their core tasks, employees can be acknowledged for their good efforts. The oil and gas industry is truly a hazardous one. If accidents like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill or the Galveston oil spill is going to be prevented in the future; oil and gas companies must work on building a safety culture.

There is no guarantee that a mobile safety app like See Forge could have prevented huge accidents like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. But the possibility of preventing an accident is a whole lot bigger when errors, defects and mistakes are reported in real time and you have a culture of constantly improvement of safety. Mobile reporting systems is truly a safer way of reporting errors than conventional reporting systems. If only one accident, big or small can be prevented, why not install it?

Sources referred to in this post:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepwater_Horizon_oil_spill

http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Galveston-oil-spill-far-short-of-BP-disaster-5344970.php

 

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