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Pipeline Inspection Safety in the Age of Industry 4.0

Professionals navigating the oil and gas extraction sector face numerous hazards, many of them potentially fatal. Unfortunately, a significant number of these workers fall victim to lethal occupational perils, according to research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Organizations in the energy arena registered a collective fatal injury rate of 8 occurrences per 100,000 workers in 2017, the latest year for which BLS data is available. In all, the space maintains the third-highest fatal injury rate, a distinction it shares with the construction sector, a perennial contender for the most dangerous industry.

Of all the menacing tasks oil and gas workers regularly tackle, pipeline inspection ranks among the most perilous. These mission-critical structures leverage pressurization to transport caustic substances at high speeds, making them immensely dangerous even when functioning as intended. Add this to the fact that many pipelines are located in difficult-to-navigate environments, including subsea sites, and the chance of injury only increases.

Having said that, environmental health and safety solutions associated with Industry 4.0 are poised to change this less-than-ideal state of affairs.

An Automated Approach

Oil

The oil and gas industry has experienced multiple large-scale disasters rooted in ineffective operational and EHS processes - most notably, the Piper Alpha and Deep water Horizon catastrophes.

In recent years, energy companies have turned to connected-industrial-technologies in an effort to automate and improve pipeline inspection activities, and ultimately prevent such calamities. For instance, automated pressurization monitoring systems and inspection robots are slowly making their way into oil and gas operations, allowing workers to relinquish some of their high-risk duties.

Many oil and gas extraction companies are also adopting industrial-grade unmanned aerial vehicles for inspection purposes, Reuters reported. These assets negate the need for human inspectors who have long been required to rappel down towering oil platforms and navigate isolated on-shore terrain to ensure field fixtures are operating properly.

Together, these new and innovative approaches with technology combined with powerful and actionable EHS data intelligence, offer a great potential for energy firms to harness the power of Industry 4.0, improve worker safety and significantly reduce the risks that accompany pipeline inspection. 

Essential Backend Tools

In addition to the field-based devices discussed above, oil and gas extraction companies are implementing EHS software solutions that facilitate optimal internal data flow, allowing the organizations to more effectively track and share safety procedures, record incidents, institute hazard mitigation solutions and meet regulatory requirements.

These applications give energy firms the power to improve their EHS operations and capably address safety risks, including those that accompany pipeline inspection.

Here at ProcessMAP, we help several leading oil and gas companies like Chevron and Cudd Energy Services to develop and deploy cutting-edge workplace safety methodologies via an innovative suite of EHS tools. Our solutions support seamless data collection and review efforts while addressing ancillary issues such as regulatory compliance and profitability.

Connect with us today to learn how ProcessMAP solutions can bolster your EHS operations and reduce the risks that come with managing oil and gas infrastructure.

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