The Ministry of Energy in mid-2019 launched a comprehensive Health Safety Security and Environment (HSSE) manual with guidelines on how to ensure employee and workplace safety for energy sector organizations.
Intended for the sector’s regulators and service providers, the manual is particularly to ensure that companies in the energy sector have generally accepted minimum requirements to guide them in the development of their respective operational procedures and processes in managing health, safety, security, and environmental issues.
For instance, the upstream industry has greater safety issues hence, by law every operator in the oil and gas sector must submit a health and safety plan as part of their Plan of Development submitted to the Government before they are considered to operate in the country’s upstream industry, said Deputy Energy Minister, Mohammed Amin Adam at the launch of the manual.
Funded by the UK Aid with technical assistance and logistical support from the Ghana Oil and Gas for Inclusive Growth (GOGIG), the manual was developed in tune with the Ministry’s quest to promote sound and sustainable HSSE practices in the development of regulations, standards, and procedures for the energy industry, in ensuring the minimal negative impact of energy sector activities on property, environment and national reputation.
Energy Minister, John-Peter Amewu says the Ministry regards competencies in HSSE as an activity that must conform to an accepted policy direction, hence broadly addressing these issues in the energy sector with the manual “will help put the Ministry, Regulators and service providers on the same page for purposes of understanding the issues and ensuring compliance to the requirements of this manual.”
Regulators are, consequently, expected to support service providers establish programs and protocols for meeting the requirements of the manual.
The Ministry also wants regulators to recognize as well as provide incentives to service providers who avail adequate resources to support such programs that are in line with indications in the manual. In this regard, therefore, Regulators, upon the Ministry’s advice, are to produce key performance indicators for service providers to help assess the value of compliance to the manual in the bottom line assessments.
“My only note of caution,” says Amewu, “is that users of this manual should consider it as a minimum requirement and not necessarily a sufficient condition in addressing all HSSE issues in the sector.” He also adds that users bear in mind that HSSE is a line responsibility and hence people cannot be absolved from accountability with the mere excuse of compliance to this manual.”
Segmented into four sections, the manual consists of the HSSE Management System – with requisite tools to implement a purposeful management system to bring HSSE targets to reality; Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) – basic requirements to ensure consistency in daily operations of any facility; Incident Notification and Investigation – system to ensure notification, incident investigation and reporting of results; and Record Retention Standard – retention period for documents relating to HSSE management in any organization.
Drafters of the manual included representatives from the Ministry of Energy, the sector’s regulatory bodies, industry groups, and organizations, as well as government institutions and related agencies.