HSC Chairís call for effective leadership in the downstream Oil Industry

Thursday, 6th Mar '08 at 13:21

Today the Chair of the Health and Safety Commission (HSC), Judith Hackitt chaired an International Safety Conference hosted by the UK Petroleum Industry Association which brought together experts from the oil industry, regulators, professional bodies and trade associations in order to generate a wider debate on process safety and sharing of best practice in the downstream oil industry.

Recent incidents, at Texas City, Buncefield and the Thorp plant in Sellafield have emphasized to everyone the need to learn lessons from the past and from each other and improve process safety performance across the major hazard industries.

Ms Hackitt once again called for effective leadership, a major theme she has championed since taking on her role as HSC Chair, "Organisations with effective and demonstrable leadership that is committed to the control and mitigation of major hazard risks are proven to have a better performance in safety and in business. Process safety management must take place at all business levels. The Board must lead the way by setting accountabilities at all levels, together with effective measurement systems, including indicators of process safety performance."

"I cannot emphasise enough how industry leaders must play a pivotal role in setting strong and visible process safety controls throughout their organisations. Safety not only ensures that people go home safely at the end of the day, but is also good business."

Highlighting the need to ensure that important information, experiences and know-how are obtained and retained, Ms Hackitt said, "Loss of corporate memory is an increasingly familiar problem and we must find a solution in order to allow new people entering the sector to understand the legacy before changing the future."

With the Piper Alpha disaster marking its 20th anniversary this year, Ms Hackittís stark reminder to the industry cannot be more poignant, "Safety lessons, some learned the very hard way, must not be forgotten. Many of the incidents happened over a working lifetime ago and as staff retire and records not updated, knowledge is being lost. There is no room for complacency and I would like to see industry and individual companies taking more responsibility to learn and implement sustainable process safety."

HSE has invited key CEOs and senior leaders to a Major Hazards conference on 29 April 2008, to discuss and share experiences on how top level commitment and leadership can help in embedding a strong safety culture that is vital to minimise risks of major incidents.

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