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How to Conduct the Best PSM Training 

PSM training at an upstream oil and gas worksite.

With operations that involve working in and around hazardous materials and processes, the risk of a catastrophic incident is never far beyond the horizon in upstream oil & gas. Hence, prioritizing Process Safety Management (PSM) training can be considered non-negotiable. PSM training ensures workers have been trained in protecting human life and property.

In this article, you will find a complete guide to help you develop the best PSM training program for upstream oil and gas workers.

What is Process Safety and Why is PSM Training Important?

A Global History of Process Safety

Process safety is a framework for managing the integrity of operating systems and processes that handle hazardous substances. It is dependent on good design, engineering, and operation and maintenance practices.

Process safety management has been, and still is today, a significant factor in the reduction of risks from major accidents. Process safety practices and safety management systems have been around in some companies for several years. However, over the past 20 years, government mandates for formal process safety management systems in Europe, the U.S., and elsewhere have resulted in the widespread implementation of a formal management systems approach.

But like many great ideas, after a strong start early on, efforts seem to have diminished in many organizations. Persistent issues at upstream operations may include:

  • Low audit frequency
  • Outdated safety documentation and process safety information
  • Outdated standard operating procedures
  • Process Hazard Analysis recommendations not being addressed
  • Poor documentation
  • Lack of proper training

The Importance of PSM Training

The foundation of a solid PSM program starts with training. This cannot be emphasized enough. An upstream operation may have the best of intentions with airtight standard operating procedures and a well-thought-out plan. However, if workers are not trained properly, the entire organization and surrounding area are at risk. To maintain a safe facility, all employees and contractors must understand the work and environment requirements, as well as the PSM program itself.

Process safety incidents may have severe outcomes. They can seriously injure or kill workers, pollute the environment through spills/leaks, and lead to large financial losses (due to damage to assets, production interruption and fines imposed by regulators). The likelihood of such incidents is greatly minimized with a solid PSM program.

PSM training is critical to compliance — and ensuring your work gets done safely.

Your Guide to PSM Training

Training is a critical component to implementing the best, most compliant process safety program for your organization. Not only should your training course include the fundamentals of PSM, but it should also be interactive and engaging for employees. And remember, PSM training isn’t “one and done”. It is an ongoing process to ensure workers are always safe and compliant.

 PSM Training Topics

To conduct the best process safety training for upstream oil and gas, focus on the following key elements:

  1. Fundamentals: definition, importance, and how PSM differs from personal safety. Emphasize that process safety is crucial for protecting people, property, and the environment.
  2. The Significance of Process Safety: Process safety incidents can have devastating consequences. They can cause severe injuries or fatalities, trigger environmental damage through spills or leaks, and result in significant financial losses due to property damage, production downtime, and regulatory fines. A robust PSM program significantly reduces the likelihood of such incidents.
  3. Risk-Based Process Safety (RBPS): RBPS framework serves as the cornerstone of a comprehensive PSM program. This industry-leading approach surpasses regulatory requirements by emphasizing a systematic evaluation of risk throughout the entire lifecycle of an upstream oil and gas operation. The four pillars of the framework include Commitment to Process Safety, Understand Hazards and Risks, Manage Risk, and Learn from Experience.
  4. Overview of Hazards Specific to Upstream Operations: PSM training is valuable for various industries, but your training course should focus on how to identify common hazards found in upstream oil and gas. These may include working with high-pressure equipment, contact with flammable and toxic materials, well integrity risks, loss of well control, and H2S exposure.

Training Methods to Optimize Learning

Everyone learns differently, so you must take an innovative training approach to ensure workers understand the materials and apply their skills while on the job.

Here are some best practices to help you deliver the best PSM training course.

Take a Hands-on Approach

Training is more effective when it’s a combination of theory and practice. It’s one thing to learn about finding upstream hazards on paper, it’s another thing to identify them on the job site.

Use Case Studies

Real-life stories are a powerful tool to get a message across about the importance of PSM training. Sadly, there are several recent examples of oil and gas disasters you can incorporate into your training course including Deepwater Horizon (2010), Piper Alpha (1988), Montara Oil Spill (2009), and Macondo Prospect (2009).

Small Group Scenarios

Workers come from all walks of life and experiences. The value of small group scenarios is that it encourages engagement, shared best practices, and teamwork. It also gives learners a break from PowerPoint slides!


Think about adding game elements that make learning fun and interactive. Quizzes, simulations or role-playing can turn otherwise dry subjects into engaging experiences. Virtual Reality is also making a huge impact on training courses and many companies are adopting the technology to improve learning outcomes.

By combining these training delivery ideas, and tailoring them to the right audience, you create a comprehensive and effective PSM training program for all employees.

Building a Healthy Process Safety Culture

A positive process safety culture is necessary to sustain excellence and avoid incidents. However, that can only happen if it’s a systematic approach at all levels of your organization.

Visible Leadership Commitment

Top (senior) management visibly commits to process safety. Leaders are encouraged to actively take part in PSM initiatives, provide resources needed and hold everyone responsible for safety.

Employee Engagement

It is important to include your workforce in safety talks on the job site, where you might conduct exercises to find and report hazards or discuss work practices that are not safe. The learning process should have proper lines of communication and promote a safety culture where it is acceptable to speak up about concerns.

Continuous Learning

A culture of continuous learning ensures employees receive the latest process safety knowledge and best practices. Initiate ongoing updating and education (incl. refreshers, workshops, share & learn sessions) as part of the training program.

The Right Partner Can Help You Optimize PSM Training for Maximum Safety and Compliance

While a well-designed PSM training program forms the foundation of safety, it’s just the first step. Maintaining a robust process safety culture requires ongoing vigilance and expertise. And that’s where partnering with a leading provider of PSM solutions becomes critical.

Consider working with us to configure a long-lasting PSM program that prioritizes safety and compliance at every level of your business.

Contact us today to learn more.


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