Independent Third Party Auditors (I3Ps) for SEMS
RP 75 was first published in the early 1990s following the Piper Alpha disaster in the North Sea. It called for companies to develop a Safety and Environmental Management Program or SEMP. Compliance with RP 75 was not a regulatory requirement.The SEMS rule became effective shortly after the Deepwater Horizon event (April 2010). Basically it made SEMP a regulatory requirement. SEMS also added some new material.
BOEMRE, the agency that introduced SEMS, then set about developing a supplemental standard that is often referred to as SEMS II. At the time of writing the SEMS II rule is being finalized (the public comment period is closed). No release date has been announced, but it is likely to become effective in the second quarter of 2012. It is SEMS II that contains the requirements to do with I3Ps.
Audits and RP 75
The audit requirements of RP 75 (now incorporated into SEMS) are summarized in Section 12 of the standard. Paragraph 12.6 — Audit of Safety and Environmental Management Program Elements — states:
may be performed by personnel from within the organization and/or by external
persons selected by the organization. The audit should
be conducted by one or more persons knowledgeable in the process involved
and other specialties deemed necessary. Care should be exercised when selecting
the audit team to ensure impartiality.
The scope of an audit is substantial:
During each audit, at least fifteen percent (15%) of the facilities operated, with a minimum of one facility, should be audited.
Audits and SEMS
The following quotation shows how RP 75 is now a regulatory requirement:
This final rule will require all elements of API RP 75 as follows:
However, to say that “SEMS = SEMP” is misleading, BSEE has added many new requirements. Those to do with auditing are summarized below.
The SEMS rule has added the following to the RP 75 requirements.
Therefore, in implementing a comprehensive SEMS program that incorporates all of API RP 75, the operator needs to include the following in its SEMS program:
. . .
(4) An independent third-party or your designated and qualified personnel must conduct all SEMS audits;
In other words, the SEMS rule, as it currently stands, does not require the use of an I3P.
BSEE and I3Ps
BSEE may employ its own I3Ps, as can be inferred from the following two quotations.
BOEMRE may enforce noncompliance with any of the requirements of 30 CFR part 250 subpart S, in a variety of ways. BOEMRE may issue incidents of non-compliance (INCs) . . . after a BOEMRE directed independent third-party SEMS audit.
BOEMRE may direct specific operators to conduct additional independent third-party audits or BOEMRE may conduct an audit, if we identify safety or noncompliance concerns based on the results of inspections and evaluations, or as a result of an event.
When will BOEMRE evaluate the independent third-party? Before or after they are used for a SEMS audit? What is the evaluation criterion?
If BOEMRE finds deficiencies in the third-party and they have already performed a SEMS audit, does that put the audit results in jeopardy or require a new audit be performed?
The operator must use an independent third-party or your designated and qualified personnel performing independent third party functions. BOEMRE will not approve, but will evaluate, the independent third-party or your designated and qualified personnel; . . .
BSEE will not maintain a list of qualified auditors. Instead, an operating company will hire an auditor and submit that person’s name to BSEE.
Audits and SEMS II
The requirements of the proposed SEMS II with respect to
audits and I3Ps are discussed below. The key quotation is:
. . .this proposed rule requires independent third parties to conduct audits of operators’ SEMS programs . . .
The justification for this requirement is:
The addition of a mandatory independent third party auditor brings necessary objectivity to identifying good practices and any deficiencies that may exist in an operator’s SEMS program.
The transition from SEMS to SEMS II is explained in the two quotations below.
BOEMRE proposes to revise this section by removing the option for the operator to use designated and qualified operator personnel to perform an audit of the SEMS program. Use of an independent third party will provide for increased objectivity in regards to improving personnel safety and achieving environmental protection as compared to utilizing a designated and qualified person of the operator. Therefore, BOEMRE would require that audits of operators SEMS programs be conducted by independent third parties. Independent third parties would be required to meet the qualifications under §250.1926.
BOEMRE proposes to require the operator to conduct audits using only an independent third party. The proposed rule would revise this section to be consistent with that requirement by removing the option to allow the operator to use designated and qualified operator personnel to perform an audit of the SEMS program.
The qualifications for Independent Third Party auditors are provided in Paragraph §250.1926 of the proposed SEMS II standard. The following quotation is extracted from that section of the rule.
The operator would be required to nominate an independent third party to audit its SEMS program. The independent third party must be capable of performing all tasks associated with an audit. The operator would be required to notify BOEMRE in writing of its nomination and to submit a request to BOEMRE for approval of the proposed third party auditor at least 30 days prior to the next audit. The request must state the name and address of the nominated individual or organization. The request would have to include the following items: qualifications of the nominated individual or organization relating to education and previous experience with SEMS, or similar management related programs; previous experience with BOEMRE regulatory requirements and procedures; and the educational background and previous experience that qualifies the proposed auditor to understand and evaluate how the operator’s offshore activities, raw materials, production methods and equipment, products, byproducts, and business management systems may impact health and safety performance in the workplace. A request would also have to include a signed statement that the independent third party is not owned or controlled by, or otherwise affiliated with, the operator. An operator would also need to have procedures to avoid conflicts of interest related to the development of the operator’s SEMS program and the independent third party auditor. The proposed rule would provide that if a third party auditor was involved in developing and/or maintaining the SEMS program, then that person, organization, and/or its subsidiaries could not audit the SEMS program.
Under the proposed rule, after
evaluating the third party’s qualifications, BOEMRE could accept or not accept
the operator’s independent third party nomination. If BOEMRE does not accept the
nomination of an independent third party, then the operator must submit a new
nomination before the audit may go forward.
Copyright © Sutton Technical Books 2007-2012. All rights reserved
PO Box 2217