Health, Safety, Security & Environmental (HSSE)
Management Consulting Services for the Pipeline
Construction Industry
Hazard Recognition Risk Management

Peter Kinsey
Pipeline Construction
Hazard Recognition & Risk Management

A Safe Job
On Time
Below Project Target Incident Rates
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Worket Training
Hazard Recognition Risk Management

A hazard is any circumstance or condition which poses the risk of an unplanned and unwanted event, with a potential for harm in terms of human injury or ill health, damage to property, the workplace environment or a combination of these.

Hazard Identification is the process of recognizing that a hazard exists and defining it’s characteristics

Risk is a combination of the likelihood and consequence(s) of a specified loss event occurring. It includes the possibility of economic or financial loss, harm to people, processes, property, the environment or relations with external stakeholders.

Risk Assessment is the overall process of identifying hazards, measuring the associated risks and evaluating strategies to eliminate or reduce the risk(s). The risk assessment process provides an inventory for action, and forms the basis for implementing control measures establishing inspection schedules. There are two generic methods:

  1. Qualitative Risk Assessment in which the probability and consequences are estimated in a subjective manner in terms of "high", "medium" or "low" likelihood and impact.
  2. Quantified Risk Assessment in which the probability and consequences are determined using quantitative methods providing a precise numerical measure of risk.

Construction hazards are identified and risks are managed, in accordance with a Client approved, Contractor hazard assessment process, described in a Project Risk Management Plan or Procedure. HSSE risks during Contractor construction operations and project execution are controlled through compliance with Contractor HSSE plans and procedures.

Before work commences, the Contractor is required to break down the project work scope into a list of planned specific and separate work activities. For each activity, associated hazards are identified, risk assessments undertaken and risks analyzed. A subsequent list is then generated of all activities with associated high risks.

This hazard identification process can be facilitated by a joint, Client-Contractor, pre/kickoff Construction Hazard Identification Workshop (HAZCON/HAZID). This is a joint Contractor and Client session, often facilitated by a third party expert, to brainstorm, identify, discuss and agree on appropriate management controls for the identified hazards arising during the execution of the work. The output from these studies will be incorporated into HSSE Training to ensure that all persons are aware of the potential hazards and the mitigation measures to be implemented. The principal objectives of the HAZCON/HAZID are to:

  • Ensure that all significant hazards have been identified.
  • Understand the causes, consequences and likelihood of the occurrence of a loss event resulting from exposure to specific hazards
  • Determine that effective and necessary controls are in place to manage the hazard.
  • Involve Project Management in the identification and understanding of the potential hazards and controls in place during the execution of the work.
  • Provide input to HSSE Training Program such that all levels of Project personnel understand the hazards and controls in place.
  • Provide a process of evaluation, which is auditable and can be verified.

In Lieu of a HAZCON/HAZID, a joint Risk Assessment between project personnel and the contractor to review the "high risk activities" is conducted and necessary risk mitigation actions are agreed upon, prior to beginning work or mobilization to site. Determining the need for an effective Permit to Work system is part of this process. Sources for hazard identification can be: company construction staff with extensive practical experience; historical data: lessons learned, inspection and audit findings from past projects or contracting of a consultant who specializes in pipe line construction hazard recognition.

HSSE risks are recorded in a register, to clearly identify their criticality and ranking, the proposed mitigation measures including a time frame for implementation, and identify the parties accountable for delivery.

The methodology for hazard identification and risk assessment shall :

  • Be defined with respect to its scope, nature and timing to ensure it is pro-active rather than re-active.
  • Provide for the classification of risks
  • Identification of risks that are to be eliminated or controlled
  • Identification of the Plans and Procedures that shall be developed to control specific risks.
  • Provide for the monitoring of required actions, to ensure both the effectiveness and timeliness of their implementation
  • Provide input into the determination of additional needed resources, of training needs and/or development of operational controls.

A risk evaluation process is used to rank project risks according to probability of occurrence and severity of consequence, within a Risk Matrix:

Probability of Occurance

The Potential Severity classifications are defined:

Potential Severity Probability of Occurrence
How severe could this event be if no preventative measures are implemented? What is the potential reoccurrence if existing hazards and conditions are not corrected?
Fatality or permanent disabling injury
Loss of greater than $XXX,XXX €
Legislative – facility closure
Occurs repeatedly during the X month(s)/year project/Operational life cycle. More than once per month/year
Example: lifting sling failure
Lost time injury. Threat to the public
Loss of less than $XXX,XXX €
Legislative – fines and charges
Will likely occur, once during duration of project, or once every X years.
Example – a moderate size product spill
Modified work or medical Treatment
Loss of less than XX,XXX €
Legislative Reporting Required
Incident is not expected to occur more than once or twice every XX man hours.
Example – an accident involving a major debilitating personal injuries
Minor injury. No threat to the public
Loss of less than $XX,XXX €
Legislative – no reporting required
Not likely to occur – possibly once in the operational life cycle of the pipeline
Example – a major pipeline rupture

Risk management strategies: a) Elimination of the hazard(s) b) Reduction of Probability c) Reduction of negative consequences, are implemented through the following actions:

  • Substitution of process or work method
  • Isolation
  • Engineering
  • implementation of work practices
  • administrative Control
  • training / education
  • personal protective equipment

The necessity, urgency and priority for action are assessed by plotting risk rankings against manageability in a Risk Matrix or "Boston Squares" system (Risk x Manageability)


For each activity classed as "High Alert" or "Caution" the Contractor will develop specific documents which describe the controls to be implemented, to eliminate or reduce each risk associated with the "high risk activities" to a tolerable and acceptable level. These documents include step by step descriptions of the work process, including how the work will be executed to ensure the mitigation of each identified risk. The documents used to fulfill this requirement come in varied forms: method statements incorporating risk management mitigation, method statements with appended risk matrices, safe work practices and safe work procedures (SWP), responsible operating guidelines (ROGs), Codes of Practice – different names for documents serving the same risk mitigation and training purposes.

On a pipeline construction project, for the purpose of planning risk mitigation, risks can be divided into two separate categories: Transportation Risks and Work Phase Risks

Transportation Risks (click here for more)

A project's highest exposure to risk is that of Transportation. Often vehicle accidents account for a high percentage of a project´s losses. Drivers of vehicles on pipeline projects conduct much of their work alone and unsupervised. It is not possible to directly supervise the drivers of a fleet of light and heavy duty vehicles, logging hundreds of thousands, if not millions of miles each month. Mitigation of the risks these project employees will be exposed to requires specific emphasis on training, motivation, with the end purpose of instilling a sense of ownership of the Company safety culture.

Project HSSE staff have to develop a pro-active Transportation Plan to promote safe and diligent driving habits. Success in this regard may require the Contractor to develop and implement a number of initiatives such as but not limited to the following: Journey planning, driver training, behavioral motivation, establishing milestones, incentives and rewards, setting standards and rules, conducting spot checks, and but not limited to assignation of a Road Transport Safety Supervisor.

Construction Methodology Risks (click here for more)

Risks associated with the construction work, at fixed or linear-moving work sites along the right of way corridor, under the constant and direct supervision of a competent site supervisor can be controlled. Much of the work is repetitive. A very high percentage of the hazards associated with these repetitive tasks undertaken during Pipeline Construction and Operation are known, and if time and resources are allocated, these risks can be assessed, quantified and controlled. New or unplanned activities can be managed with on-site Job Hazard Analyses (JHAs), Job Safety Analyses (JSAs) or Task Risk Assessments (TRAs) – three names for the same process. A diligent Contractor hires competent, experienced and motivated construction management staff and an experienced HSSE Manager to develop and implement Safe Work Practices and Procedures to mitigate project identified risks. With sufficient management commitment reinforced throughout the management organization, adherence to well thought out procedures and continuous supervisory motivation, exposing the project work force to risk can be avoided.

Any risks that are missed in the HAZCON or formal risk assessments will be captured during scheduled daily site inspections, weekly or daily tool box meetings, kick-off hazard checklists, (click here for more) weekly safety meetings, JSAs, JHAs, TRAs permit-to-work implementation, periodic review of risk registers, weekly construction meetings or monthly safety meetings. Daily construction meetings, attended by all contractors, identify the work to be done each day and the coordination of that work. During these daily meetings the contractor identifies their anticipated hazards and what measures they are taking to control the subsequent risks. This requires the HSSE staff, corporate and site construction management staff to work closely together. All these meetings are recorded in minutes, signed by the attendees and entered into an official document control system.

The foremost essential key to effective risk assessment and loss control is knowledge of actual loss events of the past. Accidents demonstrate how specific hazards at the work front become uncontrolled risks, which result in project losses. Accidents can be prevented by the elimination of their causes. If you train your national HSSE staff to recognize the causes of the common accidents and losses of the past, they will be advantageously positioned to take actions to prevent those same accidents and losses in the future. This knowledge of the causes of common accidents and losses on the right of way gives your HAZCON team and HSSE staff an enormous advantage, empowering them to focus on specific hazards and risks before accidents occur. An added bonus is that incorporating these details of real accidents into tool box talks, JHAs, training and coaching sessions, really holds the worker's attention maximizing their learning curve.

Another essential key to effective risk management is molding attitudes in the workplace. It is essential to understand that only the workers on the right of way can prevent injuries. Simply put, "Safety is an Attitude". Management must, to this end, encourage the worker's suggestions, and remain receptive to and show respect for those suggestions. If "Safety First" is your motto, then molding attitudes is your priority. The first step is to establish open lines of communication between the workers and management. To achieve this you have to gain the worker's respect and trust. Trust can only been achieved by having someone talking to the workers at the worksite, soliciting their suggestions. The person best suited for the job is someone who knows the work intimately. Workers respect a supervisor who talks to them, on the ground, eye to eye on their own terms. Finding a knowledgeable HSSE manager who is comfortable in this role is not easy.

The greatest potential for risk management exists at the point where the action takes place. This is where your policies and procedures are put into practice. An effective Safety Program can only survive with the co-operation of your workforce no matter what country you are in: Canada, Australia, Malaysia, The U.S.A., the Middle East, Turkey, Russia. You may be spending millions of dollars on a Safety Program but if you don't establish that rapport necessary to gain the attention and trust of your workforce you are wasting your money. Once your workers start talking to you, you are on your way to achieving an accident free work place. Molding the attitudes of an entire workforce is achievable. Your yard-stick for measuring success is how frequently your workers speak out about hazards they have identified. As you start to get feedback from the seeds you planted, it can be exciting and very rewarding.

If you don't know history you are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.

"You can´t hammer a nail over the internet" Alan Blinder

"HSSE cannot be managed from a cubical, dealing with on-screen abstractions

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