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European downstream oil industry safety performance

15 May 2017

Concawe, the European pipeline health, safety and environmental monitoring organisation, published a statistical summary of reported incidents in 2016 covering the period 1993-2015. The information was provided by 38 Concawe Member Companies, together accounting for 97.1% of the available refining capacity in the EU-28, Norway and Switzerland. 

This article quotes key passages from the report and reproduces select graphics, and a link to the full report is provided at the end of the article.

The collection and analysis of safety data are widely recognised by the oil industry as an essential element of an effective safety management system.

The report is the twenty-second Concawe review on safety, compiling statistical data for the European downstream oil industry. This latest version incorporates key performance indicator (KPI) data for 2015 and gives a full historical perspective from 1993. It also includes comparative figures from other related industry sectors. For 2015, the results are reported mainly in the form that has been adopted by the majority of oil companies operating in Europe as well as by other industry sectors.

In 2015, the total number of fatalities (7) was equal to that recorded for 2014 with the fatal accident rate (1.27 per hundred million hours worked) being marginally lower than in 2014 (1.32 per hundred million hours worked) due to an increase in recorded working hours. These results remain at historically low levels.

Of the 7 fatalities, 4 occurred as the result of one incident (3 Staff and 1 Contractor), a fire during refinery shutdown. The remaining 3 Fatalities were Marketing Contractors, 2 as a result of ‘road accidents’ and 1 resulted from being ‘struck by’.

Accident frequencies in the European downstream oil industry are generally at low levels and the 2015 performance continues this trend. Standing at 1.0, the Lost Work Injury Frequency (LWIF) indicator for 2015 is slightly lower than that achieved in 2014 (1.1), and is the lowest recorded since 1993, which maintains the positive trend of being less than 2.0 as has been the case since 2007. The responsible management of safety in the oil industry has resulted in a low level of accidents despite the intrinsic hazards of the materials handled and the operations carried out, the report says.


For the seventh consecutive year, Concawe Member Companies were asked to provide Process Safety Performance Indicator (PSPI) data which describe the number of Process Safety Events (PSE) expressed as unintended Loss of Primary Containment (LOPC). Thirty-one Companies provided data in 2015, two more than in 2014 (29 Companies) but one less than in 2013 (32 Companies) and two less than the peak in 2012 (33 Companies). The 2015 data represents 86% of the respondents and 96% of the reported hours worked. Up until 2012 the number of respondents was increasing each year but it now seems to have plateaued.

The term “Downstream” represents all activities of the Industry from receipt of crude oil to products sales, through refining, distribution and retail. Not all companies operate in both the manufacturing and marketing areas but all those who do, collect data separately for “Manufacturing” (i.e. refining) and “Marketing” (i.e. distribution and retail, also including “head office” staff) and this split has also been applied in the Concawe data. Additionally, the data are split between own personnel and contractors, the latter being fully integrated in all of the companies’ safety monitoring systems. The purpose of collecting this information is twofold:

* To provide member companies with a benchmark against which to compare their performance, so that they can determine the efficacy of their management systems, identify shortcomings and take corrective actions;

* To demonstrate that the responsible management of safety in the downstream oil industry results in a low level of accidents despite the hazards intrinsic to its operations.

From the outset, a majority of Concawe member companies have participated so that the sample has always represented a large portion of the industry. By 1995 virtually all Concawe members participated, representing about 93% of the European refining capacity (somewhat less for distribution and retail). Over the years this level of participation has peaked to >97%, although the actual number of participating companies fluctuated in line with the structural changes and mergers occurring in the industry as did the percentage of the refining capacity represented. For 2015, 38 Member Companies responded with the submission of a completed questionnaire, although not all companies could supply all the requested data. The statistics presented represent all except two EU-based refineries covering 97.1% of the refining capacity in the area where Concawe operates.

1. Safety performance indicators

A number of safety performance indicators have become “standard” in the oil industry and in many other industry sectors. They are mostly expressed in terms of frequency of the injury or incident - the number of hours worked being the common denominator representing the level of activity. Such parameters have the advantage of relying on a small number of straightforward inputs, which allows meaningful statistical analysis even when the data sets are incomplete. The performance indicators considered in this report are:

* The number of work-related fatalities and the associated Fatal Accident Rate (FAR) is expressed as the number of fatalities per 100 million hours worked.

* The Lost Workday Injury Frequency (LWIF) is calculated from the number of LWIs divided by the number of hours worked expressed in millions.

* The Process Safety Performance Indicators (PSPI) measure the number of Process Safety Events (PSEs) are expressed as the number of unplanned or uncontrolled releases of any material, including non-toxic and non-flammable materials from a process with the severity defined by the consequences experienced or released amount thresholds.

Figure 1 - Visual representation of LWI causes 2015, 2014 & 2013
Figure 1 - Visual representation of LWI causes 2015, 2014 & 2013

The report also provides statistics for the All Injury Frequency (AIF), Lost Workday Injury Severity (LWIS) and Road Accident Rate (RAR).

Fatalities and Fatal Accident Rate (FAR)

Because of their very low numbers, fatalities and, therefore, FAR are not necessarily reliable indicators of the safety performance of a Company or Industry. A single accident can produce several fatalities and cause an abnormally high result in the indicator for a certain year. Conversely, the lack of fatalities is certainly no guarantee of a safe operation. The safety pyramid of H.W. Heinrich 2 implies that for every fatality there have been many other incidents with less serious injury outcomes. These less severe incidents provide the opportunities to address equipment, standards, training, attitudes and practices that may prevent both the less, and the more serious incidents.

Lost Work Time Injury (LWI) Causes

The analysis of the data collected on causes for fatalities and injuries has generated much interest amongst the membership. In 2013, Concawe members agreed to adopt 16 cause categories to describe both fatalities and lost work time injuries. These cause categories are aligned with other organisations (e.g. IOGP). A total of 556 LWIs were reported in 2015.

As this is the third year of using the new 16 categories for all incidents, a summary of the 2014 and 2013 results has been included in the table for comparison. The outcome in terms of the % allocation of causes is very consistent from 2013 through 2014 and 2015. This consistency in the causes will clearly aid in identifying areas of concern for all Companies. After only 3 years of collecting the new data it is already possible to draw some limited conclusions about the causes of LWI which could suggest areas of focus. ‘Slips & trips (same height)’, 29.5%, ‘Struck by’, 11.9%, ‘Overexertion & strain’, 13.9%, ‘Falls from height’, 8.6%, ‘Explosions or burns’, 6.0% are the major causes of LWIs in 2015 and together account for 79% of all LWIs.

‘Explosions or burns’ also accounted for 4 fatalities in one incident while ‘Road accident’ caused 2 fatalities and ‘Struck by’ a further 1 fatality for a total of 7 fatalities in 2015.

Figure 2 - Historical evolution of performance indicators for European downstream
Figure 2 - Historical evolution of performance indicators for European downstream

The causal data is relatively consistent across the 3 years of collection. Figure 1 (above) provides a visual presentation of the 2015 causes recorded compared to those over the previous two years.

Historical trends

The performance indicators are of particular interest when considering their evolution over the years. The historical trends for the European downstream oil industry as a whole are shown in Figure 2 (left).

As reported above, the total of 7 fatalities were reported for 2015, with 4 fatalities resulting from one incident, which occurred during a refinery shutdown, and the other 3 being the result of separate incidents. The absolute number of fatalities and the FAR have been at consistently low levels since 2004 and this continues in 2015. In 2015, 4 fatalities (3 employees and 1 contractor) occurred in Manufacturing while the 3 fatalities in Marketing were all contractors. 4 of the 7 fatalities were contractors. As discussed above, it should be kept in mind that the FAR is notoriously prone to large variations.

The LWIF of 1.0 recorded for 2015 is the lowest value since the collection of this data commenced in 1993 and maintains the trend of less than 2.0 for the ninth consecutive year, the longest consistent period since Concawe started to collect safety data. This indicator initially had greater reductions in Manufacturing than in Marketing, however, since 2006 figures for the 4 categories continue to remain very close.

The figures suggest that AIF peaked around 1996-97 but this is likely the result of improved reporting standards. Since this time the trend has been slowly downward.

Furthermore, it can be concluded that the improvement in the personal safety performance of contractor staff is catching up with that of own staff. For the LWIF, the performance even appears to be better for contractor staff. Therefore, it can be concluded that the sector is finding the balance between managing the safety performance of both contractor and own staff. However, further performance improvement for both groups remains a feasible target.

Figure 3 - Manufacturing Total PSEs 2009-2015
Figure 3 - Manufacturing Total PSEs 2009-2015

In 2015, the road traffic accident rate was again 0.3, consistent with the rates achieved over the last few years. Road safety has been a major focus for the industry and it is pleasing to see the sustained reduction in the number of accidents being maintained. These accidents essentially occur in the Marketing activity where the bulk of the driving takes place. However, there were still 2 fatalities as a result of a road accident in 2015.

2. Process safety performance indicators

The American Petroleum Institute (API) has recommended the adoption of Process Safety Performance Indicators (PSPI) in addition to personal safety performance indicators such as those contained in this report. This is intended to better address the potential causes of major process safety incidents, which can have catastrophic effects in the petroleum industry. In 2010 the Safety Management Group of Concawe decided to expand the scope of industry wide safety performance indicators to address process safety, following the reporting guidelines that were developed by the API. Combining a focus on process safety in conjunction with the personal safety factors collected thus far will contribute to a further reduction in serious injury rates in the industry.

The Concawe Membership was requested to report their PSPI indicators as defined by the API in 2008 and as further refined in the ANSI/API recommended practise that was published in 2010.


LOPC - Loss of Primary Containment (LOPC) is an unplanned or uncontrolled release of any material from primary containment, including non-toxic and  non-flammable  materials  (e.g.,  steam,  hot  condensate,  nitrogen, compressed CO 2  or compressed air).

PSE - A Process Safety Event is an unplanned or uncontrolled LOPC. The severity of the PSE is defined by the consequences of the LOPC.

Figure 4 - Total PSERs 2009-2015
Figure 4 - Total PSERs 2009-2015

·  Tier 1 PSE - A  Tier  1  Process  Safety  Event  (T-1  PSE)  is  a  loss  of  primary containment (LOPC) with the greatest consequence. A T-1 PSE is an unplanned or uncontrolled release of any material, including non-toxic and  non-flammable  materials  (e.g.,  steam,  hot  condensate,  nitrogen, compressed CO 2  or compressed air), from a process that results in one or more of a list of consequences including: ‘An  employee,  contractor  or  subcontractor  with days  away  from  work injury and/or fatality’ or ‘Fires or explosions resulting in greater than or equal to €25,000 of direct cost to the Company’.

·  Tier 2 PSE - A  Tier  2  Process  Safety  Event  (T-2  PSE)  is  a  LOPC  with  lesser consequence. A T-2 PSE is an unplanned or uncontrolled release of any material, including non-toxic and non-flammable materials (e.g., steam, hot condensate, nitrogen, compressed CO 2  or compressed air), from a process that results in one or more of the consequences including: ‘An employee, contractor or subcontractor recordable injury’ or ‘A fire or explosion resulting in greater than or equal to €2,500 of direct cost to the Company’.

PSER - Process Safety Event Rate (PSER) is calculated as the number of PSE (Tier 1, Tier 2 or Total) divided by the total number of hours worked (including contractor hours) expressed in millions. 

Process safety statistics

The data provided suggests that one Tier 1 PSE in the Manufacturing sector resulted in 4 fatalities. The number of LWIs resulting from the PSEs is not established, as this information is not available.

The extent of reporting of Process Safety data was a slight increase versus that reported for 2014. In this seventh year of data collection a total of 86% of the Manufacturing operations and 77% of the Marketing operations provided the requested information. The results for 2015 are included in this report and continue to show a significant reduction in the number of Process Safety Events (PSE) and in Process Safety Event Rates (PSER) versus prior years. This is demonstrated in the range of graphs for Manufacturing and Total PSPI (Process Safety Performance Indicator) responses presented in Figures 3 and 4 (above) which show the results recorded by this survey over the 7 years of Concawe reporting and the associated trends.

Comparison with other sectors

Most of the safety performance indicators used in the oil industry, and particularly LWIF, have also been adopted in many other sectors so that meaningful comparisons are possible.

Table 1 - Comparison of the safety performance of the downstream oil industry
Table 1 - Comparison of the safety performance of the downstream oil industry

IOGP - International Association of Oil & Gas Producers

CEFIC - Conseil Européen des Fédérations de l'Industrie Chimique

API - American Petroleum Institute

(1) Own staff and contractors IOGP 2015

(2) Estimated from 2.1 injuries per 100 FT oil and gas workers (own & contractor staff), API WIIS-report 2003-2012

The IOGP statistics concern the “upstream” oil industry covering oil and gas exploration and production activities. For 2015, IOGP recorded somewhat lower safety metrics to those collected by Concawe for the 2015 data for European downstream activities. The ‘upstream’ operation recorded a higher FAR but somewhat better results for the other safety metrics across the globe.

The 2012 data for the EU chemical industry (CEFIC), the 2015 data for IOGP and the 2013 data for API have been shown as these reports are publicly available.

For the report on which this article is based (12/16), and others relating to the European downstream oil industry, go to

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