A Guide to Health Impact Assessment

Author: IPIECA
Date: 2005
Categories: Good practice, Guides for Practioners

Purpose of this Guide
This Guide defines and outlines the purpose and value of Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) within the oil and gas industry. It aims to describe the overall HIA process as it is currently understood and practised. HIA is a useful and beneficial tool for business, communities and government policy makers. Experience within the oil and gas industry suggests that health is a critical issue both to the project workforce and the surrounding communities.

The oil and gas industry faces a complex agenda that increasingly requires an evaluation of health, social and environmental impacts throughout all of its operations. This concern is often expressed in all phases of exploration, production, refining and marketing activities.
Initially, the impact assessment focused on environmental performance; however, over the past several years, the ‘license to operate’ has encompassed both environmental and social performance.

These issues are sometimes considered part of the overall corporate social responsibility movement. While health and safety issues have always received the highest priority for any project, the traditional focus was on worker health and safety within the geographical boundaries of a proposed project. Community health outreach programmes and assessments have frequently been performed but not considered a mandatory performance requirement. Within the context of environmental and social issues, the oil and gas industry is increasingly asked to address problems that, traditionally, are ‘outside the fence line’ and considered responsibilities of the host government. A similar evolution and expansion of assumed responsibilities for the industry has been advocated by many stakeholders in the international public health community. Oil and gas companies need to understand and consider the potential public health impact of their overall activities and projects on host societies in order to understand and address their responsibilities appropriately.

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