Miroslav Kafedzhiev: VP and general manager, Middle East, Russia, Turkey, Africa, Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions (panel co-chairman)
Abdullatif Albitawi: UAE branch treasurer, IIRSM
Alex George: Corporate HSE director, China State Construction Engineering Corporation
Ephraim Ebodaghe: HSE director, Dragon Oil
Irfan Syed: Product marketing leader, Middle East, Russia, Turkey, Africa, Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions
Kaushik Roy: Head of risk management advisory, Middle East, DNV GL
Mahmoud Sofrata: Sales director, Middle East, Russia, Turkey, Africa, Honeywell Industrial Safety
Mike Sutherland: Vice president, Offshore Operations, McDermott
Moheeb Obaid: HSE manager offshore, ADNOC Drilling
Moderated and co-chaired by Carla Sertin, editor, Oil & Gas Middle East
Sertin: What do we mean when we talk about a connected worker?
Syed: When we talk about a “connected worker”, we are talking about a connected, digital, safety solution that integrates smart, wearable sensors with a cloud-based software platform. It represents a new era of safety for workers.
With today’s connected technology, safety managers can now receive a constant stream of real-time data on a worker’s exact location as well as their biophysical and atmospheric conditions, and can monitor their safety and initiate or assist with decisive or pre-emptive safety actions like never before, from any location.
Ebodaghe: Safety data is an important resource to monitor your operations and make changes to your approach. The analysis of that data is what truly matters, as it allows you to optimise operations and make better and more informed decisions.
Kafedzhiev: Improved decision-making is a key benefit of IoT (Internet of Things) enabled safety technologies. It gives you better informed decision-making at the right time and place, backed up by data.
Ebodaghe: Exactly, gathering safety data does not amount to much if it cannot help operators make the right decisions.
Sofrata: Digitalisation is moving our industry towards predictive analytics. A wealth of data is being generated from the huge number of sensors out there, which is helping to define patterns that can ensure safer operations.
These analytics can help predict and prevent an incident before it occurs. Safety is no longer simply about how fast you can react, but how you can pre-empt incidents from occurring. That is the direction our industry is heading in.
Ebodaghe: Simply capturing more data is not the answer. It is about how that data is analysed and used to identify predictive trends. It is easier said than done. We need to find the right way to leverage data to generate insights.
Kafedzhiev: Predictive analytics can be applied to workers, assets, and processes, if data is applied the right way.
The human element
Roy: Another trend we are witnessing in our industry is knowledge drain. The generation of older, experienced workers is beginning to retire, and there is a risk that their knowledge is lost to their organisations. This is a challenge when it comes to ensuring the continuity of high safety standards in the industry.
Albitawi: What we are talking about here is the critical importance of the human element. If a worker is properly educated and trained, safety improvements can be expected. Good operator training sits at the core of industrial safety, whether that is on the use of a physical tool or an advanced control system.
Kafedzhiev: In the industrial world, people are the foundation of operational excellence. New digital technologies such as immersive competency can help retain and transfer specialised knowledge in a fast, efficient and safe way.
As the industry looks to on-board young talent or upskill its existing workforce, it should capitalise on these technologies. We have developed advanced solutions that combine mixed reality to create an interactive training environment for greater skills retention, and we have seen this catching on.
Sertin: How is this being embraced by HSE professionals?
Ebodaghe: Human behaviour tends to create risk. That is why training is so imperative.
Kafedzhiev: Yes, worker behaviour can be unpredictable. Traditionally, automation has been perceived as an answer to minimising the risk of human error. However, if an automated process requires a worker to oversee it, the issue is not solved, and we come back to the human element.
We need to adopt a more holistic approach and leverage technologies that can augment worker performance, rather than relying on automation to be the best solution.
Syed: New technologies can help change individual behaviour so that workers understand safety is of core importance to daily worksite activities. One example is voice technologies, which can aid with workflows and minimise the risk of human error.
Obaid: The next level in safety could be to use technology for anti-collision situations while a worker is in an industrial environment. For example, if a worker is operating in a high-risk environment, the equipment could be programmed to shut down or go into safe mode if it senses that a worker is in a place where they should not be or in a situation that could cause a safety incident.
Kafedzhiev: This is an area where connected worker technology can help. Data management systems can ensure a worker is properly certified, equipped and connected, and link that information to on-site security systems and grant access permission to specific places, only. This way a worker is prevented from accessing an area that they should not be in.
Making a business case
Kafedzhiev: Unfortunately, it is common that organisations invest in safety only after experiencing an incident. Organisations that drive changes in their safety procedures and operations have often been through a crisis and therefore understand the risks and costs involved first hand.
Ebodaghe: It is about making a business case. If you think safety is expensive, try an accident! In the oil and gas industry, the cost of a major safety incident can run into many billions of dollars. In this context, even a $1bn investment in safety improvements ahead of a safety incident can represent a clear business case.
Roy: Driving a strong culture around industrial safety comes down to making a case for digitalisation. We must use this technology to the extent that we can. In the mid-80s, when computerisation came, there were sceptics saying it was not going to help. Automation came in; they said it was not going to help, but the technologies worked.
Albitawi: Leveraging digitalisation for the sake of it, however, is not the answer. There should be clear health, safety and productivity benefits to implementing digital technology.
Organisations need to take time to properly understand where it can actually help them, and where they need to deploy it.
George: As a construction company, we work in multiple sectors and have many employees. The need for a business case before investing in new technology is very important. We must understand how new technology could improve our operations, and prevent or reduce accidents before making an investment and implementing it.
Kafedzhiev: Yes, new technology must have a clear purpose with defined outcomes. Technology by itself is not the answer. Proper training, good processes, and an overall culture of safety, are all key to achieving better safety outcomes.
Often, digitalisation is required when you want to drive a step change in organisational safety. It helps connect workers, prevents accidents, increases compliance and contributes to real-time monitoring, but it should be underpinned by a safety culture.
Proactive safety and comfort management
Sutherland: Worker comfort is also important, and an area that is frequently overlooked. We want our workers to be as comfortable as possible while working under challenging conditions. Welders, for example, wear leather aprons and other protective gear while completing a task that generates a lot of heat. This is not an ideal environment to work in.
I wonder how the connected worker technologies we have discussed could fit into these types of scenarios, with the ultimate goal of being proactive in how we manage wellbeing in a harsh environment.
Kafedzhiev: That is an important point. We should consider the environment workers are operating in and their overall wellbeing. From a safety perspective, you may have flame detectors or thermal cameras in place, but is temperature, humidity, sun exposure, or even the presence of toxic gases, being monitored?
There is a great deal of value to be
added by analysing those variables within the context of worker wellbeing, with the ultimate goal of optimising comfort levels.
Sutherland: Yes, because harsh environments are not conducive to work and can reduce productivity. For example, we completed a project in Canada where the temperature reached -25 degrees Celsius. We created a heated environment, so that when workers were inside, they could work comfortably in normal attire. That meant they did not have to take breaks to warm up, or have to layer on thick clothing that would limit their ability to work.
Sofrata: That takes us back to that business case, because creating the right environment also reduces downtime.
Obaid: A critical point regarding investment and business case development comes in when we start to talk about cybersecurity.
As an HSE manager, digital technology is always welcome, but we must consider the need for cybersecurity. Should there be a cyberattack or a system failure, the impact could be catastrophic on multiple levels. HSE professionals need to work together with IT and operations when assessing how to best integrate new digital technologies.
Albitawi: Digitalisation does have many benefits, but cybersecurity cannot be pushed to the back when thinking about investment. Organisations need to feel confident that their systems can be fully secured when considering investments in connected digital technologies.
Obaid: We formed a team of experts to study how we can transform safety using automation and digitalisation, and cybersecurity is a key area of discussion as part of that, so we bring together different areas of expertise to come up with new ideas.
Sofrata: It is incumbent on technology companies working to implement digital solutions to take an active role in educating HSE professionals on what cybersecurity solutions are available on the market, and which ones present the right fit in terms of organisational needs. Through collaboration, HSE professionals and technology providers can address pain points and effectively solve many problems faced by organisations today.
Digital safety roadmap
Sofrata: When advising our customers on how to best include digital technologies into their operations, we highlight preventative safety solutions and adaptive safety solutions. Preventative safety solutions include new types of equipment and PPE that enable you to act before an incident occurs. It is technology that protects but also prevents accidents using data analytics and sensors. Adaptive protection solutions move away from the “one size fits all” approach to safety and come in the form of adaptive solutions such as intelligent hearing protection. Different workers have different sensitivities to noise, so you need protective equipment that adapts to individual sensitivity and comfort.
Kafedzhiev: As the industry continues to evolve and digitisation becomes more widespread, the way we provide safety solutions is changing, too. Providing safety as a service, rather than products, is increasingly gaining traction with companies that prefer to pay for safety solutions per day and per worker for an operation. This approach allows a company to bill daily for safety services, making investment more predictable, and avoiding unnecessary overheads, maintenance and depreciation costs.
Overall, we believe connected worker platforms and digital technologies can help organisations keep their facilities and personnel safe, boost productivity, and lower compliance costs. It helps make workplaces safer and operations more efficient while avoiding costly down-time.
At Honeywell, we are always working to develop and deploy technologies in innovative ways to increase safety in the industrial space.
Through conversations with key leaders such as yourselves, we hope to continue closing the gap on safety issues.
WATCH: Roundtable participants share key takeaways