Funding agency: 
National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine

Up to $10 million in grant funding is available to support efforts to advance understanding and facilitate improvement of safety culture in the offshore oil and gas industry. The opportunity is aimed at funding research or pilot projects that will help reduce and manage risks associated with offshore energy.

Funding Priorities

We seek proposals for research and/or design of pilot projects to understand and improve offshore safety culture. In the case of pilot projects, the intent of this solicitation is to support the background work needed to develop and design a pilot program; future implementation would involve the use of funding other than that sought under this solicitation. The Gulf Research Program is specifically interested in the four areas below; however, our interest is not limited to these areas only and we also welcome proposals for other areas of research that could lead to improved understanding of safety culture within the context of offshore oil and gas operations.

  • Global Database of Incident and Safety Data: Data that can be and are used to measure offshore safety are being collected worldwide by various entities (e.g., International Association of Drilling Contractors, Center for Offshore Safety, SafeOCS International Association of Oil & Gas Producers, SINTEF, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and many others). However, much of these data exist in isolation. To maximize the value that could be collectively derived from these various data, the Gulf Research Program seeks to increase understanding of how existing databases can be harmonized, how data can be shared, how data can be used in identifying indicators of a potential incident, and ultimately how data collection can be improved to enhance offshore safety and safety culture. Questions that might be considered include: 
    • What data are available and where are they housed?
    • Where are gaps and redundancies in data?
    • What are definitional differences in variables collected and resulting interpretations?
    • What are lessons learned, advantages and disadvantages of approaches, and best practices pertaining to offshore safety data collection?
    The desired output of this research is the design of a comprehensive pilot program supporting long-term curation of a global database of offshore oil and gas incident and safety data. A robust and inclusive safety database would supply fundamental information for the development of a long-term effort to increase safety culture in the oil and gas industry. 
  • Near-Miss and Incident Reporting Systems: It is understood that near-miss and incident reporting programs can either boost or impede safety and safety culture. Several high-risk industries have developed successful reporting programs that have resulted in significant improvement of those industries’ safety record and, ultimately, a strengthening of the overall safety culture in those industries. The Gulf Research Program is interested in analysis of incident reporting practices from other high-risk industries (e.g., aviation, healthcare, mining) and the development of a pilot program to apply those practices to the offshore oil and gas industry. Questions that might be considered include: 
    • How did incident reporting practices evolve over the years for a particular industry?
    • What were obstacles in developing, implementing, and maintaining a program and how were they overcome?
    • How was an incident reporting program implemented, how has the program evolved, and what issues still need to be addressed?
    • What aspects of this program could be adapted to the oil and gas industry?
    The intent is to learn from changes in the safety culture of high-risk industries over time and understand how lessons or attributes of successful incident reporting programs can be applied to the offshore oil and gas industry. An anticipated output of this activity is an implementation plan for a near-miss and incident reporting system designed for the offshore oil and gas industry. 
  • Measurement of Safety Culture: Over the past decade, there has been a focus on defining and improving safety culture in the offshore oil and gas environment by industry, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and organizations representing various sectors of the oil and gas industry. As efforts have been made to improve safety culture, many questions have arisen: 
    • How does an organization know if it has the right safety culture?
    • How does an organization know if its efforts to improve the safety culture are working?
    • What efforts to improve safety culture have been most and least effective?
    • What works and does not work for empowering the workforce to promote a safety culture?
    • How does an organization know if its workforce is empowered or engaged to make safe decisions?
    • How can safety performance be assessed to understand factors that influence, promote, or impede safety culture?
    The Gulf Research Program seeks research projects that answer these questions and explore ways to obtain quantifiable measurement of safety culture achievement on a given offshore installation or in a set of company installations and how that measurement might vary across companies of different scale, complexity, and focus. We seek to understand how to measure and understand the impact (positive, neutral or negative) of changes implemented to improve safety culture. 
  • Human-Systems Integration: As a system becomes more complex, it is essential that system design accounts for both human strengths and human limitations. It is also imperative that humans involved with the system consider information from various human and nonhuman sources (a variety of individuals, teams, and machines) when making critical decisions and that this information be considered in light of safety culture factors such as organizational hierarchy, psychosocial stress, and trust in automation.
      The Gulf Research Program seeks research projects to advance understanding of how decision-making processes evolve with increased automation in the offshore oil and gas industry. Specifically, how do decision-making processes change depending on the interactions involved that occur between humans only, between humans and machines, and between machines only, and how do these interactions influence system safety and safety culture in the offshore environment.
Deadline: 
February 13, 2019
Funding type: 
Faculty