The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) and Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) have signed an interagency agreement to develop a confidential reporting system for near-miss incidents on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

BTS will maintain control of the individual confidential reports but will provide important trend analysis and statistical data to BSEE,” the two agencies said. “As a federal statistical agency, BTS can provide the protection of confidentiality for these reports,” BTS said in an e-mail to NGI.

The reporting system, which is expected to be operational within a year, will expand the ability of BSEE and industry to capture information about accident precursors and potential hazards associated with offshore operations. The system will complement existing safety programs and be oriented toward gathering previously difficult-to-obtain information on safety incidents. The reporting of near-misses will be voluntary in nature.

While near-incidents abound in other industries — airlines, railroads, for instance — the agencies did not provide any examples of what might be considered a near-miss on the OCS. BTS said the question should be fielded by BSEE, while BSEE did not respond to NGI‘s inquiry.

The decision to adopt a confidential reporting system follows a series of accidents in the Gulf of Mexico, including a well blowout off the coast of Louisiana in late July (see Daily GPI, July 26), and a fatal explosion and fire during a construction project last November on a production platform operated by Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations LLC. The Nov. 16, 2012 incident killed three workers and injured several others (see Daily GPI, Nov. 19, 2012).