Enhancing process safety

Safety is a core value and an integral part of our culture. In particular, Process Safety focuses on managing the hazards that can be created from the vast equipment and complex processes that are integral to our business. The primary purpose is to keep hydrocarbons, chemicals and process water controlled and safely managed at all times through all phases of our operations.  Process safety events can potentially impact the workforce, the community and the environment. Because of this, we set high expectations for ourselves. Everyone involved in our operations plays a role in driving process safety excellence. We are now in the fourth year of a corporate-wide Process Safety initiative. From 2019 through 2021, we achieved a 40% reduction in Tier 1 process safety events (those of greatest consequence) with further improvement steps underway. 



Enhancing process safety
Image United Nations Sustainable Development Goals related to this content.
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals related to this content.


To help protect our employees, contractors, communities where we work and the environment, ExxonMobil uses a proactive, disciplined approach to managing risks inherent to our operations. Our Operations Integrity Management System (OIMS) serves as the foundation for managing process safety risks, establishing clear expectations throughout our management systems. The safeguards built into OIMS are integral to how we design, operate and maintain our facilities. We work to verify and rigorously manage these safeguards through maintenance, inspection, operations testing, competency demonstrations and emergency preparedness drills. As part of OIMS, ExxonMobil monitors the performance of joint ventures and assets operated by others consistent with our expectations and encourages them to consider improvements as appropriate.

As part of ExxonMobil’s approach to enterprise risk management, higher-consequence process safety risks and risk management strategies are stewarded by the company’s Management Committee. Our Upstream, Product Solutions and Low Carbon Solutions companies develop and execute these strategies with centralized support from ExxonMobil Technology and Engineering Company and from the ExxonMobil Global Operations & Sustainability organization’s Process Safety and Reliability and Maintenance Center of Excellence.


Our primary objective is to help protect our people, communities and the environment by successfully managing and enhancing process safety.


Management and application

To help drive further improvements in process safety, we recently introduced our Enhancing Process Safety Program and updated our OIMS framework with new and enhanced expectations related to leadership, scenario management, human performance principles, critical task execution, and event learning. 

Effective scenario management is key to preventing and mitigating process safety events. This includes understanding major hazards and associated scenarios, as well as verifying, maintaining and improving, as appropriate, critical safeguards.

We collaborate with our peers and industry associations to share findings from process safety events. For example, we were a founding member and remain actively engaged in the Advancing Process Safety Initiative, a collaborative effort between the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) and the American Petroleum Institute (API). The initiative aims to improve process safety performance across the industry by sharing experiences and knowledge about events, hazard identification metrics and proven practices.


ExxonMobil applies industry standards, including the API Recommended Practice 754 and the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP) No. 456 Recommended Practice. We use a process safety indicator pyramid to classify and track incidents by severity from Tier 1 to Tier 3. We report process safety events to several organizations each year including API, AFPM, IOGP, and the American Chemistry Council as a way to collectively identify and learn from industry trends.

Our Enhancing Process Safety Program has helped reduce Tier 1 safety events. From 2019 through 2021, we reduced these events from 74 to 44; a decrease of 40%. Each 2021 event was analyzed through our Learning from Incidents process and corrective actions were identified to guide further improvement.  For example, improvements were made to our risk detection processes and our operating procedures. In addition, as part of our Enhancing Process Safety program, we sharpened focus on our highest consequence risks and improved our management process.  This includes validation of our critical safeguards and leveraging human performance principles throughout our risk management processes.



Process Safety Tier 1 Events