As one of North America's largest midstream providers of natural gas, Spectra Energy has 7,300 employees gathering and processing, transporting, storing and distributing natural gas to millions of customers over thousands of miles of pipeline, storage facilities and support infrastructure. In order to manage and minimize potential risks throughout its operations, Spectra Energy's Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) team recently launched a new program and data management system that is emerging as a model for the industry.
'Our EHS focus is progressing from a compliance-based approach to one based on identifying, assessing and minimizing risk. EPASS, our Environmental Performance and Safety System, is the EHS and operational risk management system that supports this approach by ensuring data access and consistency. The Incident Learning and Prevention (ILP) program is one of several that are relying on the new system,' says Colin Toole, Manager of the EPASS project.
EPASS is Spectra Energy's comprehensive EHS data management system. The Essential Suite software platform from ESS serves as the master data repository for most of the company's EHS data – from air emissions to waste management to emergency response. Its broad scope includes the Spectra Energy ILP program, which is designed to increase efficiencies by aligning all parts of Spectra Energy on EHS incident reporting, risk ranking, causal analysis and performance metrics.
Vince Gagner, Corporate EHS Manager at Spectra Energy, brought together more than 20 representatives from 5 business units to develop a common vision for ILP. Mr. Gagner recalls, 'Each part of the company had strong but separate incident processes in place. Here was an opportunity to create one set of best practices for everyone. After several enhancements, we achieved alignment on procedure, data fields and values, and metrics for ILP. The flexibility of ESS' Essential Incident module gave us the freedom to tailor configuration to meet the diverse needs of our system users in both Canada and the United States.'
'It was immediately obvious that our alignment on data points in the application would benefit us all,' explains Mr. Gagner. 'We also realized how incident learning at the site level could now be easily and quickly shared throughout our operations.'
Spectra Energy's ILP program requires that all incidents be evaluated based on consequences and frequency. This assessment generates a ‘risk ranking' which is then used to guide decisions on conducting formalized root cause analysis. At the heart of the risk assessment is a customized risk matrix that is built into Essential Incident software.
'It's a nice feature of the ESS software. We can go in and select the risk rank based on the Spectra Energy Risk Matrix that we developed,' said Mr. Gagner. 'Over time, we can also group data by risk and analyze cause in more detail. The more we understand about our incident data, the better opportunity we have to make improvements.'
As Spectra Energy's use of Essential Incident matures and demonstrates value for EHS, the potential for applications outside of EHS is clear.
Mr. Gagner is optimistic as he explains, 'Very early in the project, we anticipated that other users would recognize how the ILP process and ESS software could be used outside of EHS. Learning from unwanted or unplanned events and making improvements is inherent to EHS but is also a key part of Operational Excellence. Other Spectra Energy groups are now showing interest in EPASS and Essential Suite – including Operations, Security and Human Resources.'
By the end of 2009, thousands of Spectra Energy employees will have been trained through the EHS ILP program. They will be given 'end-user' access to EPASS so they can file incident reports faster and more easily online. In some cases, one computer entry will replace the creation of up to 4 separate hardcopy incident report forms that would normally be circulated via interoffice mail, reviewed, and then manually logged into 2 different incident database tools.
As a result, the company is more easily capturing reports from the field so more incident data is being fed into the centralized database, where EHS experts can mine the data for trends.
Spectra Energy's EPASS system also achieved further efficiencies and improved data integrity by integrating ESS' Essential Incident with other leading information systems such as Medgate™, the company's Human Resources system, and Taproot™, a root cause analysis tool.
'Incident management is central to business sustainability and the ILP program is one of our EPASS project's most important components,' says Mr. Toole. 'The information that we get from Essential Incident is regularly provided to Spectra Energy's senior management team to keep them up to date on how we are tracking, managing and minimizing potential risks enterprise-wide.
'In the past, EHS data management was very resource intensive. We worked with so many different spreadsheets and manual checklists that our EHS team spent too much time entering and re-entering data. EPASS – with Essential Suite – has enabled us to eliminate 110 disparate local systems and integrate key enterprise solutions so we can operate more efficiently as well as ‘responsibly, reliably and safely'.'
- Combine mature but disjointed incident management under one database.
- Align all users on one risk assessment and root cause methodology.
- Collect data that supports leading and trailing EHS performance metrics.
Essential Suite® including
- Essential Incident™
- Essential Air™
- Essential Audit™
- Essential Chemical Inventory™
- Essential Compliance Manager™
- Essential Emergency™
- Essential FEMS™
- Essential Industrial Hygiene™
- Essential MSDS Manager™
- Essential Task Manager™
- Essential Waste™
- Essential Water™
- Aligned 5 business units on one centralized EHS incident system
- Thousands of users provided with incident training and system access.
- Established consistent incident terms, definitions, calculations and metrics.
- Streamlined EHS incident data flow across North America
- Transitioned from localized to company-wide incident learning and prevention.