False alarms during maintenance of safety-critical equipment

Article published in the Regulator | Issue 1: 2018 

NOPSEMA often receives notifications of false alarm incidents at offshore facilities. False alarms initiate unnecessary muster, which forces personnel to hurry towards the assembly and introduces the risk of minor injury. They also add to personnel fatigue which could influence work performance.

A review of data from January 2015 to January 2018 identified that, of the 372 alarm/muster notifications NOPSEMA received during that period, 115 of these represented false alarms during maintenance. These false alarm incidents are common during maintenance of safety-critical equipment, with override systems being one of the main issues.

A closer break-down of override related incidents showed that a significant proportion (62%) of overrides have not been applied prior to maintenance. The top root causes of these incidents, as identified by operators, involve problems with following procedures. NOPSEMA found that there are notable instances where work instruction steps were not followed correctly when implementing an override.

Operators are advised to ensure that overrides are successfully placed before conducting maintenance activities. Furthermore, it is always beneficial to keep the maintenance procedures clear, simple and unambiguous to avoid any potential confusion that may escalate to a false alarm incident.