Asset Integrity Steering Group Blog - Major Accident Hazards

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The Major Accident Hazards workgroup recently held a workshop for managing directors with the aim of improving their understanding of Major Accident Hazard management and reinforce the part they play, as industry leaders, in ensuring safe operations.

We were incredibly lucky to have speakers who included Allan Greensmith of Total UK Ltd, Gary Booton of ABB and Madeleine Abas of OAH Law. All the speakers had important messages for our thirty delegates, proving complacency and delegation of responsibility has no place in our industry.

Gary Booton’s presentation focused on safety leadership and the difference between a leader and a manager. He stated that good leaders are part of the team, they inspire trust, do the right thing and focus on people. Managing Major Accident Hazards, emergency response and culture is all about leading from within the team – everyone has a role to play and everyone is responsible. 

Allan Greensmith shared the hart-breaking story of an accident which happened at the Total Lindsey Oil Refinery in June 2010 in which Robert Greenacres, a young mechanical technician, was tragically killed when he started to work on the wrong flange of a high temperature crude oil line.

Allan’s presentation had an immense effect on the attendees. He acknowledged that there were processes and procedures in place which could have prevented the tragedy from happening but these were not fully understood or complied with. There was also a cultural complacency on the site – “we’ve never had an incident here, therefore it won’t happen”.

Allan spoke of the impact Robert Greenacres’s death had on his family, friends and colleagues. Men who had worked at the facility for years were so deeply affected by the incident that they couldn’t work in the refinery again. Madeleine Abas, a lawyer who specialises in health and safety law, spoke about ‘legal privilege’.  We have seen organisations hide behind the term ‘legal privilege’ – a misused and misinterpreted phrase. Every organisation has the right to share their experience and lessons – let’s help prevent our friends and colleagues from making the same mistakes – it could save lives.

Total chose to waive the legal privilege in order to share their experience and discuss the lessons learned from the incident at the Lindsey refinery. The Asset Integrity Steering Group members are passionate about sharing our experiences, both within our own companies and throughout industry, to avoid similar incidents happening. We will champion any company that shares something the industry can learn from.