Total petrochemicals unifies global EHS reporting to drive down operational risks, drive up excellence


Courtesy of Courtesy of IHS

Total Petrochemicals encompasses the petrochemicals activities of the Total Group, with about 6,000 employees in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Asia including the headquarters location in Brussels. Its business includes base petrochemicals from steam crackers and certain refinery processing plants – olefins, aromatics, and commodity polymers. Total Petrochemicals USA, Inc. is headquartered in Houston, employs about 1,700 people in the U.S., and produces polypropylene, polyethylene, polystyrene, styrene, base chemicals and transportation fuels. The company is committed to maximizing workplace safety and minimizing its environmental footprint worldwide. Yet managing the vast quantities of complex data required to drive operational excellence and assure compliance with countless regulations and international standards was a major business challenge.

In 2001, Karen Jones, Manager of Health and Product Safety and Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), was asked to spearhead an initiative to implement a new information system that would streamline and strengthen environmental, health and safety (EHS) incident management and reporting throughout Total Petrochemicals USA Inc operations.

“At the time, we had one database for our environmental data and a separate database for our loss control and injury records,” Jones said. “We had different staff supporting and maintaining each system. Then, the person who managed the environmental database quit the company, so I needed a replacement. I started looking at IHS IMPACT ERM® for reporting of environmental data and the IMPACT EXEC® tool to mine data out of our other database. Then the guy in charge of our loss control database called me on the Thanksgiving holiday. He was unable to get the loss control system to work and couldn’t find an IT person. He said, ‘I’m getting rid of the old system. Go ahead and do the whole project.’ They gave us until January to implement the complete IMPACT ERM solution. We went live on January 15th 2002.”

In 2003, the use of IMPACT ERM solution went global. Today, all of Total Petrochemical’s sites use IMPACT – with almost 5,000 licensed users at 17 facilities worldwide.

“One of the cool things about IMPACT is that it allows us to use different levels of implementation depending on the needs of each site,” Jones said. “IMPACT lets you very methodically approach what you need to do, when you need to do it, and how you respond to things, such as incidents,” Jones remarked. “It helps you better manage response and be proactive to reduce problems and improve work processes. You name it, we can do it. IMPACT simplifies plant reporting, site reporting, and corporate sustainability reporting.”

Before IMPACT was implemented, staff members had to collect the data and then ‘cut and paste’ it into a spreadsheet. “We couldn’t get our monthly reports done before the 15th of the month because we had to do all sorts of labor intensive data gathering. It was very manual,” Jones said. “With IMPACT, our reporting can be done in a matter of 15 minutes versus 15 days. In addition, we’re also able to see trends and then quickly and systemically zero in on the details.”

The site EHS teams enter data for Houston teams to send reports to offices in Brussels. The ability to see patterns and trace the root causes of issues back to the site or granular equipment level is key to implementing changes and optimizing performance.

“IMPACT allows us to ask, ‘Do we seem to be having incidents on the same shift?’ Or, ‘We seem to have a problem whenever we do a start-up after a turnaround on this unit. What can we do in advance to prevent that problem?’ ‘What is the percentage of action items completed on time versus not completed at all?’ With IMPACT, our managers can quickly and easily see if there are gaps in their units’ performance,” Jones emphasized. “Now we’re able to see it systemically because we use IMPACT to look at all sites. The site managers use it to look at their operations from their own site level. We have reports that go to all of our executive management in the U.S. These include the audits, the actions that were taken or were recommended from each audit, and the status of action plans for every audit for our sites. Each business unit vice president gets a complete report showing how their business lines and sites are doing with their action plans. IMPACT makes it easy to access the data at full value for our end users.”

Total Petrochemical’s safety experts and managers use the IHS system to track not only incidents but also near misses so they can proactively investigate and take action to prevent future loss events.

“IMPACT gives us much better management of investigation findings and action plans,” Jones affirmed. “The system gives us the ability to risk rank. This is huge for us. In fact, if we don’t risk rank a record, it stops workflow. We won’t let it go forward past a certain workflow status. We believe that our injury rates and our costs are lower because we’ve reduced our accidents and incidents by following through and responding to potential issues identified utilizing the IHS solution.”

Total Petrochemical has made risk ranking a business imperative because the stakes can be extremely high.

“For example, if we lose a pump seal, we look at the potential dollar figure for that loss,” explained Jones. “If it’s $10,000 per minute that makes it a much higher risk. IMPACT gives us the functionality to track this. We have a refinery that is required to submit reports to the EPA on incidents and activities including our environmental audits and the actions from the audits. We’ve built all of these reporting requirements into IMPACT. So our refinery site was able to configure IMPACT to handle the reporting.”

IMPACT helps companies centralize, manage and monitor the incident management audits that they have performed, findings noted and the actions required. Having one centralized system allows for the kind of transparency and accountability that is needed to drive operational excellence enterprise-wide.

“The ability to put all required actions into one system is a huge benefit of IMPACT,” Jones commented. “It helps us close the gap. Our vice presidents receive reports showing the audit performed, findings noted, actions generated. It’s all wrapped up in one automated system. It tracks whether all actions have been closed in a timely manner. IMPACT gives us the accountability and the transparency that we want and need. The flexibility and configurability of IMPACT makes it, in my experience, one of the best tools on the market. It helps us do many things corporate-wide while also meeting the unique needs of each site.”

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