Safety and OSHA News

Report on BP spill: Have to change ‘business as usual’

The Presidential commission investigating the BP oil spill says the oil and gas industry needs to take bold action to make it clear that business will no longer be conducted as usual in the Gulf of Mexico. In a nutshell, one section of the report says BP and other companies working in the Gulf need to change their safety cultures.

The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling released its full report on Jan. 11.

The report notes that this isn’t the first disastrous workplace incident caused by BP. The Texas City refinery explosion on March 23, 2005, killed 15 people and injured more than 170.

BP states its safety goal as “no accidents, no harm to people and no damage to the environment.”

But the report says the oil company’s approach to managing safety has been on individual worker occupational safety but not on process safety. BP doesn’t have “consistent and reliable risk-management processes.”

One example in the report shows how the safety culture may not have been up to par. Transocean was one of BP’s two largest contractors on Deepwater Horizon. A survey of Transocean crew regarding safety management and safety culture one month before the oil spill showed:

  • 46% of crew members surveyed felt some of the workforce feared reprisals for reporting unsafe situations, and
  • 15% felt that there weren’t enough people to carry out work safely.

The report suggests, “Company leaders will need to lead the effort to guarantee that risk management improves throughout the industry to ensure that the mistakes made at [Deepwater] are not repeated.”

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