The Chemical Safety Board has just released a preliminary report on the Deepwater Horizon accident. The core finding was that the crew was too focused on reportable lost-time accidents and too unfocused on process safety. Of course, our president dispatched the attorney general to threaten criminal charges for violations of mindless regulations while his interior secretary promised to keep a “boot on the throat” of BP!
The full title on the report is “CSB Investigation: At the Time of 2010 Gulf Blowout, Transocean, BP, Industry Associations, and Government Offshore Regulators Had Not Effectively Learned Critical Lessons from 2005 BP Refinery Explosion in Implementing Safety Performance Indicators.” Here is a summary of the board’s findings:
Noting the lack of sustained focus on process safety, CSB Investigator Cheryl MacKenzie described an “eerie resemblance” (emphasis added) between the 2005 explosion at the BP Texas City refinery and the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon.
At the BP Texas City refinery on March 23, 2005, contract workers had just returned to temporary trailers at the plant after attending a celebratory lunch commending an excellent personal injury accident record. Shortly after lunch, an explosion occurred during process startup, killing 15 and injuring 180 others. At Macondo, BP and Transocean officials were in the process of lauding operators and workers for a low rate ofpersonal injuries on the very day of that tragedy. Company VIP’s had flown to the rig in part to commend the workforce for zero lost-time incidents.
Investigator MacKenzie said, “The emphasis on personal injury and lost work-time data obscures the bigger picture: that companies need to develop indicators that give them realistic information about their potential for catastrophic accidents. How safety is measured and managed is at the very core of accident prevention. If companies are not measuring safety performance effectively and using those data to continuously improve, they will likely be left in the dark about their safety risks.”Read