Bow Tie Model Helps Battle Pandemic
The bow tie concept of safety was on display at a recent live podcast presented by SPE, where representatives from Equinor, NOV, SOS International, and the Energy Institute discussed efforts to keep offshore workers safe during the current pandemic.
The bow tie concept of safety was on display at a recent live podcast presented by SPE, where representatives from Equinor, NOV, SOS International, and the Energy Institute discussed efforts to keep offshore workers safe during the current pandemic. The podcast, SPE’s first live broadcast, was shown on the organization’s LinkedIn profile page.
The panel consisted of Francesca Viliani, the director of public health and cohead of sustainability for SOS International; Fredrik Jervell, the leading adviser for medical services for Equinor; Mark Scanlon, the head of health, safety, and environment (HSE) good practice for the Energy Institute; and Rium Johnson, the chief health, safety, security, and environmental officer for NOV. The discussion was moderated by Johana Dunlop, SPE’s technical director for HSE and sustainability.
Scanlon presented the established concept of the bow tie model, so named for the shape the diagram takes as risks and barriers are laid out around an undesirable event. The model has been consolidated in the book “Bow Ties in Risk Management: A Concept Book for Process Safety,” which was put together by the Center for Chemical Process Safety and the Energy Institute.
Equinor has created a bow tie model for the specific instance of COVID-19, building on the company’s experience with infectious diseases. Jervell said that the Norwegian company has been prepared for such an outbreak for some time. “COVID-19,” he said, “is novel, yes, but it’s not unknown. Managing infectious disease offshore is something we’ve been doing for 40 years. We have a lot of experience keeping our people healthy and safe.”
The bow tie model, Jervell said, has been instrumental in visualizing the efforts to control the current disease. “For COVID-19, we use the same principles as we have for all other infectious diseases,” he said.
In the center of the model built for COVID-19 is the index event, in this instance a person infected at an offshore installation. The left side of the model contains likelihood-reducing measures, starting with the broad efforts of public medical infrastructure and local government efforts and narrowing to company efforts such as sick-leave policies and travel restrictions. “You need to have a sick-leave policy,” Jervell said, “so that people who are sick don’t actually show up to work.”
The right side of the model contains consequence-reducing measures. These include efforts such as social distancing and quarantining of close contacts to prevent further infections.
Using the model, Equinor has built the following process to handle infectious diseases: isolate, quarantine close contacts, maintain safety, demobilize nonessentials, then regain control to remobilize. “It’s a good way to manage fear, to manage operations,” Jervell said. “Confidence, trust, and feeling of safety is vital,” he said. “To reduce disturbance of operations, we rely on employee confidence. It’s really important to us that our people are safe and feel safe.”
Johnson with NOV reiterated the importance of the battle against fear and “making sure that we alleviate what we can of fears so people can focus on the tasks they already do day to day.” She also underscored the importance of industry collaboration. “It’s really quite nice to see people pulling together on this because we all are affected by it, not just us as employees or people as part of the industry but really our families and our communities.”
The bow tie model, the panelists agreed, could be a great nexus for collaboration. “It would be very desirable if the public—or really actually government—promoted the use of a bow tie as a visual aid to help people understand what are the real barriers, what are the things that challenge the barriers, and how all of that stuff fits together,” Scanlon said.
“We know that the oil and gas sector is at the forefront of a lot of health and safety processes and procedures,” Viliani added, “so there are a lot of opportunities to use it more widely.”