• What is Safety Performance?

Safety

What is Safety Performance?

Aug 18 2021

Safety is paramount in the oil and gas industry, with companies channeling millions of pounds into OHS measures designed to protect workers, members of the public and local communities. Over time, safety performance reviews are conducted to determine how effective a company’s measures are and where improvements can be made.

As well as universal health and safety concerns prevalent across most industries, the oil and gas sector faces a unique set of challenges when it comes to OHS. This includes dangerous working conditions for employees and the handling of toxic substances such as crude oil.

The costs of poor safety performance

The costs of poor safety performance can be devastating, resulting in enormous profit losses and employee fatalities. For example, the Texas City Refinery of 2005 injured 180 people, claimed 15 lives and cost the company an estimated US$3 billion. A report into the incident revealed that substandard safety culture was once of the key drivers of the event. The Deepwater Horizon explosion is another example of how dangerous subpar safety culture can be. As well as 11 deaths, the catastrophe resulted in an eye-watering bill of more than US$65 billion for BP.

The role of the Health and Safety Executive

In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has developed a specialized document that provides practical guidance on key health and safety management principles and how to measure performance

“Measurement is a key step in any management process and forms the basis of continual improvement. If measurement is not carried out correctly, the effectiveness of the health and safety management system is undermined and there is no reliable information to inform managers how well the health and safety risks are controlled,” reads the HSE document.

Exxon in the spotlight

Exxon has recently come under fire for weak safety performance, with environmentalists warning its ultra-deepwater drilling project off the coast of Guyana not only poses a threat to the marine ecosystem but also puts lives at risk. In the event of a spill, the company states it will use a chemical dispersant called Corexit 9500 during the cleanup effort. As well as damaging the gills of fish and marine life, research suggests that Corexit 9500, which was used by BP to disperse oil after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, can cause damage to human lungs. The chemical breaks down a unique type of cell tissue found in the organs, causing swelling and creating excess fluid that can block respiratory passages.

Want to know more about why safety performance matters? Independent analytical consultant Tom Lynch explores the topic further in ‘Safety Culture” – What is it and why should you pay attention to it?’


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