Our approach to safety
ExxonMobil’s Operations Integrity Management System (OIMS) establishes a framework for addressing risk across all aspects of our operations. OIMS, which is built around 11 key elements of risk, is embedded into everyday work processes in each of the following areas of safety at ExxonMobil. Each element comprises a number of expectations — 65 in all — that provide greater detail.
OIMS is embedded into everyday work processes at all levels. Managing our procedures within the OIMS framework provides a structure to help monitor continuous improvement. This is why the first element of OIMS is management leadership, commitment and accountability. In an industry such as ours — which operates 24 hours a day, around the world — the need to manage risk never ends. Even the best safety framework should be viewed as a work in progress because developing a culture of safety is a continuous journey.
Performance and initiatives
In 2017, ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge Polyolefins Plant and Baytown Chemical Plant in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico received the Distinguished Safety Award from American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM). This award recognizes company refineries and petrochemical plants that have attained a superior level of safety performance in the domestic refining and petrochemical manufacturing industries. ExxonMobil was selected by members of AFPM’s Safety and Health Committee based on the safety performance records of the individual plant locations.
Every year, the National Safety Council honors individuals under age 40 with the Rising Stars of Safety Award for demonstrating leadership and dedication to safety at work. In 2017, Randel Wright, an Operations Integrity Management System Coordinator at ExxonMobil, received the award.
Spotlight: Drones enhance safety inspections across the company
ExxonMobil frequently tests new technologies that have the potential to enhance safety performance while maintaining operational efficiency. Read more.
ExxonMobil expects every employee and third-party contractor to take action when they observe an at-risk situation or unsafe behavior, regardless of whether the worker is a supervisor, experienced employee, new hire or contractor. We provide the tools and training to foster a culture of safety that empowers our global workforce to intervene or stop work when necessary.
We periodically assess our systems, programs and practices to identify opportunities for improvement. ExxonMobil works to identify underlying causes associated with incidents and near-misses, and to refine our approach in response to these findings.
ExxonMobil’s management approach to personnel safety includes a consistent framework to describe actual and potential injury severity. We must continue to minimize actual injury severity, allow potential injury severity to drive our priorities and focus on preventing all injuries to enable our desired culture of caring and alignment with our safety vision.
Performance and initiatives
Since 2000, we have reduced our workforce lost-time incident rate by more than 80 percent. While this number is declining, safety incidents do occur. We deeply regret that two contract workers were fatally injured in separate incidents related to ExxonMobil operations in 2017. One incident occurred at an onshore drilling site and the other happened at a refinery during construction activities. We thoroughly investigated the causes and contributing factors associated with the incidents to prevent similar events in the future and to globally disseminate findings. We have also joined cross-industry working groups with representatives from the oil and gas and other industries, such as the Campbell Institute at the National Safety Council, to better understand the precursors to serious injuries and fatalities. We will continue to promote a safety-first mentality for ExxonMobil employees and contractors until we reach our goal of a workplace where Nobody Gets Hurt.
Our commitment to safety starts at the top, is driven throughout our businesses and is consistent everywhere we operate. Our employees, contractors and communities depend on us to provide the training, tools and processes to keep them safe and healthy every day.
Contractors are an integral part of the ExxonMobil team. From building pipelines and refinery expansions to working on offshore platforms, thousands of contract workers support our operations every day. We strive for effective collaboration among all workers, including third-party suppliers and contractors. Work being done on the company’s behalf can directly affect our operations and reputation, making it essential that they conduct work in accordance with our policies and business objectives.
Since 2000, we have conducted safety leadership forums with contractors working on our major projects, with the objective of achieving an injury-free workplace. This promotes a strong safety partnership with contract workers to improve our safety performance and positively influence the industry. The 2017 ExxonMobil Contractor Safety Forum brought together more than 150 contractors across our Upstream and Downstream businesses.
At ExxonMobil, process safety is about managing the integrity of our facilities by applying good design principles, engineering and operating practices. Effective process safety management prevents the uncontrolled release of hydrocarbons and other hazardous substances to avoid significant health, environment or property damage incidents. We use a comprehensive approach to identify and manage process safety risks associated with our operations. This approach employs layers of preventive safeguards for equipment, processes and people.
ExxonMobil incorporates rigorous safety standards and procedures in our facilities' design, construction and operating activities. We employ structured inspection and maintenance programs to regularly test critical equipment and maintain compliance with applicable regulations. We use advanced technologies in many of our manufacturing facilities to identify potentially abnormal operating events. We focus on training employees in effective process safety procedures guided by our Operations Integrity Management System, which serves as the foundation for consistently managing process safety risks at ExxonMobil.
Performance and initiatives
We adhere to and uphold industry standards, including the American Petroleum Institute Recommended Practice 754 and the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers No. 456 Recommended Practice. These standards define process safety indicators and include incidents resulting in a loss of primary containment. We use a process safety incident triangle to classify and track incidents by severity from Tier 1 through Tier 4, with Tier 1 referring to events of greater consequence. We report on Tier 1 and Tier 2 events because these have the potential to be the most severe incidents. In 2017, we experienced 63 Tier 1 process safety events, which is approximately 1.6 percent lower than 2016. ExxonMobil tracks and analyzes Tier 1 and 2 process safety events to continually improve safety performance and prevent future incidents.
We collaborate with our peers and industry associations to share lessons learned on process safety. For example, ExxonMobil is actively engaged in the Advancing Process Safety initiative, a collaborative effort between the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers Association and the American Petroleum Institute. This initiative is designed to improve process safety performance across the industry by sharing experiences and knowledge about process safety events, hazard identification metrics and industry-proven practices.
Spotlight: Working toward continuous improvement of process safety
ExxonMobil recently launched a comprehensive review of process safety practices used across the company to identify opportunities for improvement. Read more.
Product stewardship refers to a series of interconnected work processes for the safe and effective management, focusing on the health, safety and environmental impacts at each phase of a product's lifecycle. This includes the management and communication of product safety information on raw materials and products to comply with all applicable laws, regulations and corporate policy. To ExxonMobil, product stewardship means actively identifying ways to mitigate the possible negative impacts of our products to both people and the environment while simultaneously enhancing benefits to society.
Our goal is to continuously innovate and improve, to offer products that best fit our customers’ needs. We regularly use lifecycle assessments to consider impacts during the development, manufacturing, use and disposal of our products. For example, through our role in the American Petroleum Institute, ExxonMobil collaborated with Environmental Resources Management and the State of California to complete a lifecycle assessment on used oil. The assessment provides definitive insights on the impacts of various management options for used oil from a range of sources, including vehicle and industrial applications. While this study focuses on used oil management in California, its key findings are relevant to other states and countries.
Our quality assurance processes verify that materials received meet design specifications and that construction is in accordance with applicable standards. Due to the evolving nature of regulatory requirements, we continually monitor developments to make sure our products are aligned with current regulations, standards and guidelines, including:
- United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals
- Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals
- United Nations Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management
ExxonMobil’s approach to product stewardship is defined by the product safety policy, found within ExxonMobil’s Standards of Business Conduct. Components of the management systems are consistent with product safety guidelines developed by IPIECA and the International Council of Chemical Associations.
Our Product Stewardship Information Management System applies common global processes and computer systems to capture and communicate information on the safe handling, transport, use and disposal of our products, as well as emergency contact information. This system enables ExxonMobil businesses to comply with changing regional and national hazard communication regulations.
Performance and initiatives
Regulatory knowledge and sound compliance processes and practices combined with open communication with customers form the foundation of effective product stewardship. We monitor regulatory developments in all countries where we market products as we aim to meet or exceed all safety, health and environmental requirements. To be transparent and facilitate dialogue, we identify hazard and risk management practices and disseminate this information to customers via safety data sheets, product data sheets, labels and technical guidance.
ExxonMobil implements rigorous safety and environmental standards while transporting our products, including by marine, pipeline and rail.
Part of our commitment to product transportation safety includes responding to the evolving marketplace. For example, over the past several years the United States has experienced a significant increase in the use of rail transport for crude oil, primarily due to new production sources. We have comprehensive risk management plans in place to help ensure that rail transportation of products is conducted safely. These plans address rail car design as well as loading and unloading procedures. We regularly engage with industry peers and emergency responders to promote the safe transport of oil and chemical products and develop improved training programs for public responders across North America. Learn more about how ExxonMobil manages product transportation.
Performance and initiatives
We carefully maintain and monitor our infrastructure worldwide to identify and prevent corrosion, third-party damage or illegal intrusions onto our rights of way. ExxonMobil’s worldwide marine business, which involves about 500 vessels in daily service, logged more than 21,000 voyages and 40,000 port calls in 2017, safely transporting approximately 1.2 billion barrels of crude oil and refined products. ExxonMobil Pipeline Company and its affiliates safely transport almost 3 million barrels per day of crude oil and refined products. We operate approximately 4,000 miles of active pipelines in the United States every day.
ExxonMobil is developing cutting-edge technology to enhance the effectiveness of our pipeline inspections. Specifically, the technology improves our ability to detect and characterize pipeline cracks, which are caused by corrosion or other factors such as original fabrication flaws, service conditions or other external conditions. The technology is designed to enhance the capabilities of inline inspection tools, such as those that travel through pipelines, which could significantly increase the ability of inspectors to interpret and verify the data. In doing so, we can improve our ability to maintain pipeline integrity. Once this technology is finalized, we would like to see it broadly utilized by vendors and industry organizations.
Emergency preparedness and response
Regardless of the size, severity or cause of an event, each ExxonMobil facility and business unit has access to a wide array of trained responders and resources. We routinely test our emergency response teams in accordance with external regulatory requirements and our own Operations Integrity Management System.
We establish emergency support groups and incident management teams around the world. They comprise representatives from across business functions to develop and practice emergency response strategies. We test these teams on a range of possible scenarios, including simulated spills, fires, explosions, natural disasters and security incidents. Emergency support groups and local emergency response teams are supplemented with emergency regional response teams as needed. Our three regional response teams — North America; Europe, Africa and the Middle East; and Asia Pacific — consist of diverse ExxonMobil personnel trained in a single incident management system to address a range of scenarios and issues associated with field response.
Spotlight: Emergency preparedness and response in Guyana
As we continue to evaluate the full potential of the Stabroek Block off the coast of Guyana, ExxonMobil has developed effective emergency response plans in the area founded on standardized company procedures and collaboration with local stakeholders.
In this response plan, as is the case in other locations, local entities implement the tactical response capabilities, while ExxonMobil provides strategic response capabilities in the form of an emergency support group and corporate resources. To help develop the capabilities of local personnel, in 2017 ExxonMobil facilitated oil spill response training courses as part of ongoing training efforts. These courses were delivered by specialized instructors from ExxonMobil. In addition to training local personnel, we are part of the National Oil Spill Committee, which is working with the Guyana Civil Defense Commission to develop a new National Oil Spill Plan for Guyana.