Design management


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Reviews of design projects were carried out by three teams of OSD inspectors from a spread of topic backgrounds. A cross section of project and operator company staff were interviewed, ranging from UK managing director to contractor discipline engineers.

This guidance, derived from experience gained from the reviews, explains those practices that are considered to have a significant effect on the ultimate safety of the completed installation during its life cycle and sets out OSD's initial expectations of effective performance in these areas.

The information has been collated under a series of headings which relate to the various roles and responsibilities of staff and the phases of the project. Within these headings, they are grouped to reflect their relevance to the six primary elements of successful health and safety management (HS)(G65).

Corporate management

To be successful the drive for continuous safety improvement and inherently safer design must stem from the very top of the duty holder's organisation. This is because inherently safer installations may require larger up front capital investment, although the consequent reduction in the need to operate and maintain a wider range of mitigation measures over the life of the plant may reduce the overall life cycle costs.

Therefore, in inspecting design and construction projects, the key indicator for corporate management is:

Corporate commitment to continuous safety improvement and inherently safer design.

The commitment and practices of corporate management, which are considered to have significant or beneficial impact on safety, include:


Declaration of company values with respect to continuous health and safety improvement and inherent safety, and of the means to achieve them, including willingness to commit CAPEX.


Field development procedures that require explicit safety evaluation and a commitment to take positive and transparent notice of the results.

Planning and implementing

Measuring performance

Project sanction conditional on effective consideration of inherent safety and assessment against other measurable health and safety goals.

Reviewing performance

Independent review of project proposals against predetermined values and procedures that include safety considerations.

Conceptual design

At this stage, the fundamental level of inherent safety and operability of an installation is established. The processes and organisation established for this task are therefore critical. It is particularly important that the true full life costs and associated safety risks of options are considered, as CAPEX-only costing can mitigate against some basic inherently safer design objectives. Sufficient attention should be paid to detail at the FEED stage to ensure consistency with this safety philosophy is maintained during detailed design.

The key indicator for conceptual design is therefore:

Project management commitment to selecting and defining a concept that will meet both the health and safety and financial goals set at corporate level.

The conceptual design practices which are considered to have significant or beneficial impact on safety include:


Existing designs with accepted safety cases subjected to the above processes to ensure that there are no significant differences from the earlier field parameters, prior to adoption for a new field development.

Planning and implementation

Development of a plan for HSE involvement at the appropriate level during each stage of the project.

Project management

The project culture is set by the project manager. A different skills base is appropriate to the post sanction execution phase, and it can be beneficial to have a change of manager once sanction is granted.

OSD's studies have shown that improved performance occurs when staffing levels are sufficient to prevent work overload, and time scales set are realistic.

The key performance indicator for the project execution phase is:

Appointment of an experienced and competent project manager and team with appropriate resources and realistic implementation programme.

The project management practices which are considered to have significant or beneficial impact on safety include:



Planning and implementation

Measuring performance

Audit and review

Use of formal audit programme involving all stakeholders, including suppliers and constructors.

Detailed design

It is during the detail design phase that the safety goals and concepts incorporated in the BoD will be realised or lost. The high level performance standards of the SCEs will require to be translated into hardware specifications that will deliver the required performance throughout the life cycle of the installation.

This process requires careful and methodical work, well co-ordinated and subject to effective cross checking and validation. The management of interfaces both between disciplines within the team, and with other related projects or facilities is vital.

The key performance indicator for the detailed design phase is:

Competent engineering and design staff working to unambiguous procedures with effective cross discipline co-ordination, and understanding of risk reduction measures.

The commitment and practices for detailed design which are considered to have significant or beneficial impact on safety include:



Continuous cross fertilisation between safety engineering and other discipline departments.

Planning and implementation

Effective and timely implementation of verification scheme to ensure that there is adequate opportunity for proper correction of any design and construction errors revealed.

Project monitoring and review

Data collected during the design phase can be fed back immediately to improve the process as it progresses. This can be achieved by independent review of progress against the design objectives. Also, as the project nears completion, the design teams start to fragment and disperse. Unless specific measures exist to review how well the project went, much of the learning experience may be lost. This process needs to start early in the project and continue throughout, rather than wait to the end, when personnel start to move away and interest switches to future work.

The key performance indicator for monitoring and review is:

Measures in place to collect and make effective use of data on project progress and review lessons learned for future projects.

Project monitoring and review practices which are considered to have significant or beneficial impact on safety include:


The effective monitoring of the construction and commissioning phase is important both for occupational health and safety and for ensuring that the design intent is achieved.

The key performance indicator for the construction phase is:

Implementation of an effective management system for the control of construction and commissioning health and safety risks, onshore and offshore, which is fully integrated with the design process.

The practices which are considered to have significant or a beneficial impact on safety include:


Planning and implementation

Way forward

With the increased emphasis across HSE on improving safety by design, it is hoped that this SPC will enable OSD to more effectively and consistently influence project teams to achieve higher levels of health and safety for new projects and modifications to existing installations.

Updated 2020-12-08