Safety is the supreme concern in industries with hazardous location operations. Failure to comply with safety regulations can result in fines that easily exceed $1 million per instance. In the upstream oil and gas industry alone, spending among global companies on Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) is expected to reach $56 billion in 2030, up 60% since 2011, largely due to increased regulatory compliance requirements.
Naturally, the more hazardous the work environment, the more organizations must pay attention to HSE protocols and procedures in order to comply with regulations, and, even more importantly, to protect persons and property. Oil and gas operations, for example, involve flammable materials being processed with powerful equipment under high pressure, with potentially deadly consequences in the event of an emergency. Companies that follow basic safety best practices – the buy-in from leadership for HSE plans, training programs and employee participation in HSE processes, solutions to safety challenges, communication about the value of safety, and belief in the benefits of HSE programs - are some of the safest.
When personnel in hazardous area operations have direct access to the right information about the safest and most correct ways to perform their jobs, they will be more likely to meet the standards set by their organizations – and keep themselves and others safe. According to research by the University of Salford Manchester in 2017, in the case of the oil and gas industry, human error constitutes the largest contributor in more than 70% of all accidents. So, it makes sense that surveys show that HSE applications are the most requested on mobile devices.
But in hazardous environments, where traditional computing devices are not permitted because they themselves would be a safety risk due to potential for ignition, the devices that could provide access to HSE information must be highly specialized. Intrinsically safe devices like certified tablets or handhelds, which are designed to not cause a spark that could ignite a combustible environment, can be part of organizations’ HSE plans to commit to better communication among all employees, even those working in the most hazardous areas. With more pervasive communication, teams can respond better to emergencies - or even prevent them - through people and machines being able to notify the appropriate personnel at the first sign of a potential problem.
In addition to safety notifications, mobile devices can help facilitate safety and compliance in hazardous environments through a variety of applications: