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Entries » Blog » Improving worker safety in the Digital Oilfield: Author, Tunde Williams

Improving worker safety in the Digital Oilfield: Author, Tunde Williams

Created Dec 23 2014, 6:00 AM by Clare McFarlane

17% higher offshore lost work days due to safety incidents vs onshore1

Whitepaper: Improving Safety And Productivity In Oil And Gas Operations

Global oil demand is predicted to increase by more than a third by 20352. Yet despite an increase of over 790,000 barrels per day in the United States alone2, pressure for continued production growth is intense.

The end of easy oil is driving energy companies to explore for new reserves in ever more remote, and dangerous locations - offshore deep under the ocean, in extreme climates such as the Arctic, in hot deserts, and in fields where High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) wells are developed. Although reducing time to first oil is a major priority, health, safety and the environment (HSE) remain non-negotiable and at the very top of an agenda that also includes protection against cyber attacks, and addressing the skills shortage.


The oil and gas industry is committed to continually improving safety standards. But of course, safety is everyone's business. We must all take some degree of personal responsibility for safety culture. A number of initiatives exist to make oil and gas one of the safest "major hazards" industries in the world - including workforce engagement programmes such as the Step Change in Safety campaign. Despite this, a recent study showed that safety incidents offshore caused 17% more workdays lost, compared to onshore incidents1 .


Technology plays a vital role in keeping workers safe both offshore and onshore. In the Digital Oilfield, the seamless and secure mobilisation of voice and data is key to ensure that people are always connected so the best decisions are made in critical situations. But oil facilities are complex environments. Key players can be found offshore on the platform, onshore at one or more control rooms, in the air, and at sea. Often, each player uses its own communications system and this can create challenges in efficiently mobilising emergency response resources. Enabling the efficient flow of data, and continuous, reliable communication between all these stakeholders requires advanced digital Land Mobile Radio (LMR) and operation technology.

As primary communication devices, robust digital two-way radios need to be safe for use in environments where potentially explosive substances such as propane pose an ignition risk. These intrinsically safe (IS) devices and accessories must be certified as a system, be failsafe, and comply with globally recognised IS standards such as ATEX and IEC Ex.

Although the choice of device can ultimately become a lifesaving decision, the mobilisation of information in the Digital Oilfield is about more than "just a radio".


Of course, it's imperative that personnel can communicate with one another instantly and securely - particularly in critical situations, whether individually or as part of a group. But it's also essential that Offshore Installation Managers and Onshore Emergency Response Coordinators know when a remote - or lone working employee gets into trouble.

There are many ways in which applications expand the scope of advanced digital LMR to protect workers in the oil and gas industry.

  • Man Down alerting solutions from Motorola Application Partners, protect and monitor lone workers at risk in hazardous sites. Working silently in the background with voice and data calls operating as normal, alarms are generated to the control room if the radio falls at a specific angle or if there's no radio activity for a pre-determined amount of time - ensuring personnel can get assistance even when unable to call for help.
  • Geofencing and GPS positioning apps can help identify when a radio enters a dangerous workspace and raise an alarm if an employee fails to response to continuous 'alive check' messages.
  • Automated alarm management apps instantly send alerts in the event of electrical or mechanical failure, fire or panic alarm via text message to a user's MOTOTRBO radio.
  • Real time indoor positioning uses Bluetooth to keep track of employees within a building for safety purposes, using a clear graphical overview to display the location of users without affecting radio network performance.


Responsible for the safe transportation of gas from the North Sea to Europe, Gassco wanted to migrate to a digital solution to improve worker safety at remote sites. They implemented GPS positioning and man down alerts over a Dimetra IP Micro TETRA network. This improved the coordination and response of their maintenance teams across multiple work groups, connected their operations centres onto a central network, and created a dedicated emergency channel to provide instant simultaneous broadcast of incident messaging - inside and outside its plants.

We've recently published Improving Safety and Productivity in Oil and Gas Operations. This whitepaper takes an in-depth look at how the right communications network can help energy companies meet growing demand while keeping HSE risks and downtime at a minimum.

If you'd like to join the conversation about improving worker safety in the digital oilfield, we'd be delighted to welcome you to the Motorola Solutions Community EMEA LinkedIn Group.

Tunde WilliamsTunde Williams is Head of Field & Solutions Marketing, Europe & Africa.
Tunde is on LinkedIn at

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