Lisa Rollans and her team develop each facility’s internal operating permit, creating a ‘recipe for success.’
What may be the hardest part of Lisa Rollans’ job as Aera’s process manager isn’t keeping up with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements for highly hazardous chemicals.
Nor is it ensuring that facilities comply with OSHA regulations through the company’s internal operating permits (IOPs).
It’s knowing that when she and her IOP audit team arrive at a facility, no one’s really happy to see them.
“Being an auditor doesn’t make me popular, but I can help find safety-related challenges and correct them before a regulatory agency does,” said Rollans. “We’re there to help.”
Rollans is Aera’s liaison with OSHA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for Risk Management and Kern County Environmental Health. She’s also a certified professional auditor who inspects each facility’s compliance efforts.
Her job focuses on safety, particularly preventing the release of hazardous chemicals. She creates each facility’s permit, based on its potential hazards and OSHA’s process safety management (PSM) requirements. Aera has seven PSM facilities plus 15 others that are non-agency regulated but treated by the company as though they are PSM sites.
What sets Aera apart, said Rollans, is its willingness to go above and beyond what’s required by OSHA.
To do that, Rollans, her team and the individual facilities develop Aera’s IOPs. These multi-page documents are used as a clear framework for compliance among the company’s 22 regulated and non-regulated facilities. The IOPs lay out specific, stringent conditions and activities that ensure that each site meets OSHA’s PSM requirements.
Aera’s protocol of voluntarily applying IOPs to non-PSM facilities is unusual among oil and gas producers. It’s a step that requires additional resources, effort and discipline by those non-regulated sites.
“Our IOPs provide a higher level of transparency,” said Aera’s Jared McKnight, health and safety specialist at Belridge who has also participated in IOP audits of other facilities. “They require an audit for compliance every three years. That standardized review places priority and focus on the risk management of these facilities.”
Each IOP requires extensive engineering analysis to meet up to 90 conditions for safe operation. For example, facility drawings of all equipment and instrumentation must be accurate and complete. Those are reviewed and updated every year.
“Implementing IOPs at our facilities is a recipe for success,” said Rollans. “The regulatory agencies appreciate the framework of our IOPs because it makes their inspections of Aera facilities go smoother.”
OSHA is changing its rules and more facilities will probably become PSM regulated. “The good news is that we’re already doing that through our IOPs,” said Rollans, who joined Aera in 1990 as a roustabout. “It won’t be as painful for us as it might be for others.”
Rollins added, “The objective of our IOPs is aligned with our philosophy that, every day, everybody goes home alive and well.”
Lisa Rollans and Jared McKnight verify the inspection tag of a storage system safety device at Belridge.