With massive reservoirs of oil and gas trapped in the rocks under our feet, the oil industry is eager to get fracking. But US evidence of chemical related deaths, soaring fatalities and over-exposure to deadly dust has raised seriously unhealthy questions. Hazards 126, April-June 2014
BP could be benefiting from privileged access to the UK government, despite a record peppered with major disasters, Hazards editor Rory O’Neill has discovered. The London-based oil giant, with two of its most controversial old boys installed in key posts in government and the Health and Safety Executive, could soon be calling in more favours.
Hazards 122, April-June 2013
The UK’s offshore safety system has been hailed as a model of good practice. But US critics say they don’t want it over there, because it’s secretive, places too much trust in oil companies and contains very risky assumptions – including an allowable death rate of one in every thousand workers.
Hazards 113, January-March 2011
BP may emerge unscathed after Gulf deaths
A 19 September statement from BP America chair and president Lamar McKay portrays the oil giant as a responsible corporate player that had emerged from the Deepwater Horizon “tragedy” with valuable expertise. Sidestepping any mention of “oil”, “pollution” or “deaths”, McKay set about spinning a cocoon of virtue around the company’s “accomplishment” and its eagerness to allow others to learn from its “important insights”.
Hazards 'green jobs' blog, 23 September 2010
Abuse of power
As BP – until this year Britain’s biggest company – reels from the impact of the Gulf of Mexico disaster, the UK government embarks on an unprecedented push to impose the deadly BP business model across the whole nation.
Hazards 111, July-September 2010
No clean start for BP
Departing BP boss Tony Hayward, 53, will receive a £600,000 ($940k) annual pension, a £1.045m ($1.6m) pay off and more in shares. Bereaved families and other less celebrated victims of the Gulf of Mexico disaster, will not fare so well.
Hazards 'green jobs' blog, 30 July 2010
Don’t demonise BP bosses, jail them
Can you have serial crimes but no criminal? BP’s well-heeled directors have proved as slippery as the gulf’s oil smeared coastline, with none so far facing criminal charges relating to the Deepwater Horizon disaster or other deadly incidents.
Hazards Green jobs blog, 4 June 2010
We told you BP couldn’t be trusted
Directors of BP's London-based global board seem to be above justice when it comes to the firm's serial workplace safety and environmental crimes. The disaster-prone board generally escapes criticism from politicians, uses slick PR to fend off press attacks and has evaded all blame and punishment for a sequence of industrial and environmental catastrophes. But these may now be coming too frequent and too serious to ignore.
Hazards green jobs blog, 24 May 2010
The bottom line
Do the money markets care when a mine explodes and 29 workers die? Or a refinery blast kills 15? Not a bit, warns Hazards, which is why the possibility of jail for top company directors could give them something other than the share price to think about.
Hazards 110, April-June 2010
BP, the killer they like to forgive
In November 2009 UK magazine the New Statesman announced its ranking of ‘20 green heroes and villains.’ Among the ‘panel of environmental experts’ judging the awards was John Browne, the UK peer whose reputation was earned at the helm of global petrochemicals giant BP. Hazards green jobs blog, 22 November 2009
Escaping scrutiny Fewer than 1 in every 15 major injuries at work now result in a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation. Justice suffers too, with absolutely no HSE enforcement action in almost 98 per cent of cases. But Tory plans to give firms a get-out-of-jail card could make a bad situation much, much worse, Hazards editor Rory O’Neill warns.
Hazards 108, October-December 2009
Some of Britain’s biggest companies have seriously neglected their safety responsibilities, with deadly consequences. Hazards takes a look at BP, and asks how bad will it have to get before a top boss ends up behind bars.
Hazards 97, January-March 2007
Britain: Unions welcome copter checks after helideck incident
Unions have welcomed the recall of type of Sikorsky helicopter for safety checks after an incident on 28 December 2016. A S-92 gouged a slit in the helideck, damaged its wheels and spun on the deck of Total’s West Franklin platform when it was forced to land.
AAIB bulletin. RMT news release. BALPA news release. Unite news release. BBC News Online. Energy Voice. Risks 783. 14 January 2017
Britain: Oil giant’s appeal against £3m fine dismissed
Energy giant ConocoPhillips (UK) Ltd has failed in its bid to reduce the level of fine handed down after multiple gas releases at an offshore facility in the North Sea. Dismissing the appeal, held in the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Lord Justice Treacy that court the company had fallen short of appropriate standards and the case was one of high culpability.
HSE news release. Risks 782. 7 January 2016
Britain: Offshore workers fearful for their safety
Almost 60 per cent of offshore workers fear for their health and safety and say that standards have dropped in the past six months, according to a new report from Unite. The union’s survey found 58.5 per cent of offshore employees said there had been a drop in standards in the last six months, with fear of victimisation for reporting an incident reported by 38.5 per cent.
The National. STV News. BBC News Online. Risks 782. 7 January 2016
Britain: Fracking linked to cancer-causing chemicals
Hydraulic fracturing could result in exposures to a wide range of cancer causing substances and many more that have been inadequately tested, a new analysis by Yale School of Public Health has found. The research team, publishing their findings in the journal Science of the Total Environment, said the carcinogenic chemical cocktail used in ‘fracking’ has the potential to contaminate air and water in nearby communities.
Yale School of Public Health news release. Risks 775. 5 November 2016
Britain: Regulators ill-equipped to police fracking risks
Regulatory bodies including the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are ill-equipped to properly address health risks posed by fracking, according to new research. The rapid evidence assessment by Stirling University experts raises a serious question mark over government claims that regulators including HSE and the Environment Agency will be able to ensure the safety of fracking.
A rapid evidence assessment of regulation and regulatory practices involved in fracking and it public health implications, Stirling University, October 2016. Environmental Health News. Risks 773. 22 October 2016.
Britain: Halliburton fined £10,000 after driver crushed
Oil giant Halliburton has been fined £10,000 after truck driver Alexander Masson was crushed and seriously injured at a Scottish yard. The company accepted liability for an ‘inherently dangerous’ unloading operation which left the man with a catalogue of injuries.
STV News. Risks 770. 1 October 2016.
Britain: North Sea helicopter companies challenged over safety
North Sea helicopter operators have been urged to do more to introduce safety measures for crashes at sea. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said improvements could boost the survival chances of passengers and crew.
BBC News Online. Risks 770. 1 October 2016.
Britain: Refinery giant fined £400,000 after serious injury
Valero Energy UK Limited has been fined £400,000 following a serious injury at its Pembroke Refinery. Judge Peter Heywood sitting at Swansea Crown Court heard the access tower walkway that provided gangway access to a stationary oil tanker on 5 March 2012 had dropped 3.5 metres, causing operator David Thomas to be trapped by a slack wire rope, suffering serious leg injuries.
HSE news release and major hazards site information. BBC News Online. ITV News. Risks 768. 17 September 2016.
Britain: Transocean bosses to face MPs after rig grounding
A powerful UK government committee is to hold an inquiry into the grounding of the Transocean Winner rig which hit rocks in the Western Isles in August. Representatives of Transocean could be hauled before the Transport Select Committee after it agreed to look into the incident, the move coming the day after the UK government confirmed that it would not be carrying out a risk assessment into the need for a second emergency tug to cover the west coast of Scotland.
Unite news release. BBC News Online. Energy Voice. Risks 768. 17 September 2016.
Britain: Oil rig rescue highlights need to reinstate rescue vessels
The grounding of a 17,000-tonne oil drilling rig carrying 280 tonnes of diesel highlights the need to reinstate axed Emergency Towing Vessels (ETV), the union Nautilus has said. The union was speaking after the Orkney-based Herakles – Britain’s only remaining ETV, operated by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) - was deployed to assist the Transocean Winner rig which ran aground on the Western Isles of Scotland on 10 August after breaking from its tug in heavy seas
Nautilus news release. BBC News Online. The Herald. The Guardian. Risks 764. 20 August 2016
Britain: North Sea workers strike overs hours and pay
Almost 400 members of the offshore unions Unite and RMT working for Wood Group across eight Shell oil and gas platforms in the North Sea have taken strike action for the first time in a generation in a dispute over an erosion of their terms and conditions of employment. The first 24-hour stoppage took place on 26 July, with a series of other stoppages planned over the coming weeks.
Unite Scotland news release. IndustriALL news release. TUC news release. Risks 761. 30 July 2016
Britain: Glasgow University ‘silenced’ fracking safety critic
The University of Glasgow has been accused of trying to silence one of its prominent professors after he questioned the safety of fracking. David Smythe, an emeritus professor of geophysics and a leading critic of the fracking industry, has had his university email address cancelled, and his access to scientific journals cut off.
The Ferret. David Smythe’s online discussion paper. The Extreme Energy Initiative, Human Rights Consortium, University of London. Risks 756. 25 June 2016
Europe: Unions join forces in North Sea campaign
Global unions have linked up to develop a strategy to resist the assault by employers in the North Sea on decent, safe work. Maritime and oil and gas unions affiliated to IndustriALL and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) met in Aberdeen last month to agree a joint approach.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 754. 11 June 2016.
Europe: Unite condemns ‘dangerous’ helicopter stunt
Offshore union Unite has condemned a publicity stunt by four senior offshore helicopter safety and aviation chiefs as “offensive and dangerous”. The union was commenting after trade publication Energy Voice reported that Gilles Bruniaux, vice president of aviation safety for Airbus Helicopters; Gretchen Haskins, chief executive of HeliOffshore; Duncan Trapp, vice president of safety and quality for CHC Helicopters; and Les Linklater, Step Change in Safety executive director, all raised their hands to say they would fly on Super Puma H225 helicopters and would also allow their children to fly.
Unite news release. Energy Voice. Risks 754. 11 June 2016.
Britain: More dangerous cuts to Scotland’s offshore sector
Job cuts in the oil sector are jeopardising safety and could mean there will be no viable North Sea oil industry within a decade, offshore unions have said. The warning came as Shell Oil cut another 475 jobs in a move Unite Scotland described as part of an industry-wide strategy to drive down terms and conditions under the cover of the oil price drop.
Unite news release. STUC news release. Risks 753. 4 June 2016
Britain: More dangerous cuts to Scotland’s offshore sector
Job cuts in the oil sector are jeopardising safety and could mean there will be no viable North Sea oil industry within a decade, offshore unions have said. The warning came as Shell Oil cut another 475 jobs in a move Unite Scotland described as part of an industry-wide strategy to drive down terms and conditions under the cover of the oil price drop.
Unite news release. STUC news release. Risks 752. 4 June 2016
Norway: Helicopter tragedy is a ‘wake-up call’
The 29 April helicopter crash that killed 13 people on their way back from an oil platform off Norway’s west coast has heightened concerns over whether the industry’s deepest cost cuts in 15 years are undermining safety. While the cause of the crash of the CHC Group Ltd helicopter on Norway’s North Sea coast is still unknown, the accident is a “wake-up call,” said Leif Sande, the leader of the Industry Energy, the biggest oil union in the country.
Energy Voice. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 749. 7 May 2016
Britain: Union warning on conditions on Shell oil platforms
Offshore workers employed by a contractor on Shell’s North Sea platforms are demanding the withdrawal of proposals to cut their terms and conditions. Unite is to meet with the Wood Group’s management team to press home offshore workers’ opposition to further cuts which it says could jeopardise safety.
Unite news release. Socialist Worker. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.
Britain: Fuel giant fined £3m over offshore leaks
One of the world’s largest oil and gas exploration and production companies has been fined £3 million after gas leaks on a platform off the Lincolnshire coast put workers’ lives in danger. ConocoPhillips (UK) Limited admitted serious criminal safety failings in Lincoln Crown Court after two uncontrolled and one controlled but unexpected gas release, which occurred on the Lincolnshire Offshore Gas Gathering System (LOGGS) between 30 November and 1 December 2012.
HSE news release and guidance on risk assessment for offshore installations. Grimsby Telegraph. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.
Britain: Trade unions act on offshore crisis
Unions have joined forces in a new move to protect workers in the offshore oil and gas industry. Speaking at the launch in Aberdeen of the Offshore Co-ordinating Group (OCG), Grahame Smith, STUC general secretary, said: “The collapse in the oil price since summer 2014 has had profound consequences for the oil and gas workforce,” adding: “There have been thousands of job losses, unprecedented attacks on terms and conditions and growing fears over the safety regime.”
STUC news release. Nautilus news release. BBC News Online. The Herald. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.
Britain: ‘Purgatory’ for workers on North Sea slave ships
A Scottish government committee has called on the UK Coastguard Agency to respond to safety concerns after offshore union RMT condemned conditions aboard some vessels operating in the North Sea as “purgatory.” RMT regional organiser Jake Molloy said the conditions aboard some ships were “appalling” with “less competent, less able and less willing workers being exploited in order to exploit our natural resources.”
Scottish Parliament economy, energy and tourism committee news release. Morning Star. Risks 735. 23 January 2016
Azerbaijan: Caspian Sea oil rig fire claims many lives
Two oil workers have been confirmed dead and 30 more are missing presumed dead after a fire broke out on an oil rig in the Caspian Sea. Tragedy struck the oil platform off the coast of Azerbaijan on 4 December.
IndustriALL news release. Wall Street Journal. ABC News. Risks 732. 12 December 2015
Britain: INEOS warned about ‘multiple fatalities’ risk
The INEOS oil and petrochemical complex at Grangemouth in Scotland is facing a legal crackdown by the UK workplace safety regulator in a bid to prevent leaks, fireballs and explosions from killing workers. The concerns about the company’s safety and environmental performance have led to union calls for a greater worker voice on health and safety matters.
The Ferret. The Times. Risks 732. 12 December 2015
Britain: Shell delay on dealing with offshore explosion risk
A deadline for Shell to address a risk of an offshore fire or explosion has been extended by the safety regulator. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) improvement notice was issued in August 2015 after an undersea gas leak. The leak happened when a towline snagged on a pipe nearly 300ft below the Curlew floating production vessel in the North Sea, causing a valve to rupture and gas from the Fulmar Gas Line to leak out into the sea 130 miles south east of Aberdeen.
STV News. HSE enforcement database. Risks 727. 7 November 2015
Britain: Fracking firm disputes known fracking risks
A major fracking firm has gone on the offensive, attacking claims by a campaign group that there are potentially serious occupational and environmental risks associated with the controversial process. Cuadrilla hit out after a leaflet from the campaign group Friends of the Earth (FoE) highlighted warnings, many made by official US government agencies, about the dangers posed by the toxic chemicals and crystalline silica used in large volumes in fracking operations.
Friends of the Earth blog report, supportive letter from academics and fracking webpages. The Times. BBC News Online. Risks 726. 31 October 2015.
Australia: Unions call for offshore safety action
There must be urgent reforms to regulatory oversight of Australia’s offshore oil and gas industry to improve safety, unions have said. In a new report, ‘Offshore OHS – Protecting our oil and gas workers’, national union federation ACTU outlines nine recommendations for occupational health and safety law reform.
ACTU news release and report, OHS Offshore - Protecting our Oil and Gas Workers, Risks 718. 5 September 2015
USA: Warning on fracking chemicals risks
Greater attention should be paid to the potential health risks posed by fracking chemicals, researchers have warned. A team led by Elizabeth Wattenburg of the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health set out to identify the constituents of fracking fluids, noting: “There is growing concern about how hydraulic fracturing affects public health because this activity involves handling large volumes of fluids that contain toxic and carcinogenic constituents, which are injected under high pressure through wells into the subsurface to release oil and gas from tight shale formations.”
Elizabeth V Wattenberg and others. Assessment of the acute and chronic health hazards of hydraulic fracturing fluids, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, volume 12, issue 9, pages 611–624, September 2015. Hazards fracking guide. Risks 717. 29 August 2015
Britain: Renewed call for offshore helicopter inquiry
The UK government must urgently revisit the recommendation of the previous parliament’s Transport Select Committee for a public inquiry into offshore helicopter safety, Unite has said. The union call came ahead of the 23 August second anniversary of the Sumburgh offshore helicopter tragedy, when four offshore workers died when their helicopter ditched in the waters off the Scottish coast, taking the total number of helicopter transfer fatalities since 2002 to 38.
Unite news release. The National. Risks 717. 29 August 2015
Britain: North Sea pilots support safety strike action
North Sea helicopter pilots have indicated strong support for strike action if helicopter companies do not make “serious improvements” in the way they deal with job losses. In a survey conducted by their union BALPA, which highlighted safety concerns, pilots accepted the downturn in the industry meant jobs would go, but were frustrated at the way management are going about it.
BALPA news release. Risks 717. 29 August 2015
Britain: Renewed call for offshore helicopter inquiry
The UK government must urgently revisit the recommendation of the previous parliament’s Transport Select Committee for a public inquiry into offshore helicopter safety, Unite has said. The union call came ahead of the 23 August second anniversary of the Sumburgh offshore helicopter tragedy, when four offshore workers died when their helicopter ditched in the waters off the Scottish coast, taking the total number of helicopter transfer fatalities since 2002 to 38.
Unite news release. The National. Risks 717. 29 August 2015
Britain: Oil giant sentenced over criminal safety failure
The firm running the Grangemouth Oil Refinery in Scotland has been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker was injured at the plant. In October 2012, a Petroineos employee was carrying out a cleaning operation on a vent pipe and while opening a vent valve on a walkway 25 metres above ground, was sprayed in the face by low pressure steam.
HSE news release. Energy Voice. Risks 716. 22 August 2015
Britain: North Sea chopper pilots want safe staffing
A move by North Sea helicopter companies to rush through redundancies could put safety at risk, the pilots’ union has warned. BALPA said over a third of helicopter pilots operating in the North Sea attended a union meeting and were “appalled to hear the employers’ approach to the redundancies, at the ruthless exploitation of the weak market by the oil and gas majors and at the consequent real risk to safety in the North Sea.”
BALPA news release. Risks 716. 22 August 2015
Britain: Total fined £1.4m after worker was killed in fire
Total UK Limited has been fined £1.4 million after a major fire led to the death of a worker at an oil refinery in North Lincolnshire. Robert Greenacre, 24, was working near a crude oil distillation unit just before the fire broke out at the Lindsey Oil Refinery (TLOR) in Immingham on 29 June 2010.
HSE news release and COMAH webpages. ITV News. Risks 714. 8 August 2015.
Britain: Fracking funded study admits safety concerns
A report by the UK Task Force on Shale Gas has called for greater safety and transparency measures to be implemented before widespread fracking occurs across the country. The task force, which is led by former Environment Agency head Lord Smith and which is funded by the shale gas industry, has called for 'full disclosure' of all chemicals to be used by the industry, as well as independent monitoring of the fracking process.
Assessing the impact of shale gas on the local environment and health, UK Task Force on Shale Gas, July 2015. Oil Change International. Spinwatch. Risks 712. 25 July 2015.
Britain: Shell fined for leak on platform where workers died
Oil giant Shell has been fined after a diesel leak on the same North Sea platform where two workers died 12 years ago. Sean McCue, 22, and Keith Moncrieff, 45, lost their lives when they were overcome by gas while working on the energy firm’s Brent Bravo rig in 2003.
The Scotsman. BBC News Online. Risks 710. 11 July 2015
Britain: Offshore safety-critical maintenance backlog 'growing'
Industry body Oil and Gas UK has reported a growing backlog of safety-critical maintenance on offshore installations. Its annual health and safety report said the trend had been growing since companies began reporting in January 2009.
Oil and Gas UK news release and report. BBC New Online. Risks 710. 11 July 2015
Britain: Offshore strike ballot set to go ahead
Offshore unions are set to ballot for industrial action after talks failed to resolve a dispute over changes to working patterns. GMB and Unite officials held further talks on 20 May over unilateral changes to working conditions for workers covered by the Offshore Contractors Agreement (OCA) in UK waters.
GMB news release. Risks 704. 30 May 2015
Britain: Oil price hike should end offshore cuts
The recovering price of oil should bring an immediate end to the oil and gas industry’s ‘opportunistic’ campaign of job cuts and attacks on working conditions, offshore union Unite has said. The union call came in the wake of its consultative ballot which showed over 93 per cent support for industrial action among Unite members employed by firms in the Offshore Contractors Association (OCA).
Unite news release. Risks 702. 16 May 2015.
Britain: Job cuts accelerate North Sea ‘race to the bottom’
The announcement of further offshore job cuts marks a dangerous and quickening ‘race to the bottom’ in the industry, the union Unite has said. Its warning came after the 26 March announcement by oil giants Shell and Taqa that they would be axing a further 350 North Sea jobs.
Unite news release. Ten Pathways to death and disaster, Michael Quinlan, The Federation Press, ISBN 9781862879775. Hazards magazine • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
USA: Refinery blast highlights oil strike concerns
An 18 February explosion at Exxon Mobil's refinery in Torrance, California, is raising new concerns about high risks, weak standards and lax regulatory oversight in the US oil refining sector. The incident is the latest in a spate of fires to strike US oil plants in the past few years.
USW news release. AFL-CIO Now blog. International Business Times. NBC4 News. Risks 692. 28 February 2015
Britain: Unions and HSE voice concern over offshore safety
Falls in the price of oil have lead to oil and gas companies reducing pay and conditions and putting safety at risk, leading to two unions deciding to ballot their members on strike action. Unite and GMB union members of the Offshore Contractor Association (OCA) will vote on whether to take industrial action after talks with industry bosses in London broke down.
GMB news release. HSE Blog. Risks 691. 21 February 2015
[oil] Global: TUC backs striking workers
The TUC has backed workers at nine US refinery and chemical plants who walked off the job earlier, marking the first nationwide oil strike in 35 years. The strikes are not only about, benefits, and work conditions, but also safety.
TUC news release. Risks 691. 21 February 2015
USA: Oil union goes on safety strike
Workers at US refineries and chemical plants took strike action last week after the firms and the union USW failed to reach agreement over pay, benefits and safety issues. USW international vice president Gary Beevers, who heads the union’s national oil bargaining programme, said: “This work stoppage is about onerous overtime; unsafe staffing levels; dangerous conditions the industry continues to ignore; the daily occurrences of fires, emissions, leaks and explosions that threaten local communities without the industry doing much about it; the industry’s refusal to make opportunities for workers in the trade crafts; the flagrant contracting out that impacts health and safety on the job; and the erosion of our workplace, where qualified and experienced union workers are replaced by contractors when they leave or retire.”
USW news release. Wall Street Journal. Labor Network for Sustainability. Risks 689. 7 February 2015
Britain: North Sea workers faced an asbestos risk
Hundreds of North Sea oil and gas workers could have been exposed to deadly asbestos while drilling offshore. Fears for their safety arose after a retired rigger was awarded a five-figure legal settlement after contracting asbestos-related pleural thickening, caused by asbestos used in Flosal, a powdered substance used in the 1970s to lubricate pipes being drilled into the sea floor.
Sunday Post. Risks 689. 7 February 2015
Britain: Offshore job losses risk ‘another Piper Alpha’
Jobs cuts across the UK offshore oil industry will compromise safety and lead to the loss of key skills, Unite has warned. The union said “the seeds of another disaster on the scale of Piper Alpha” could result from cutbacks linked to the oil price fall. Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 689. 7 February 2015
Britain: Oil firm messed up on 159 safety-critical jobs
A major North Sea oil firm failed to get approval for the deferral of 159 safety-critical work orders. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found 182 outstanding jobs when it carried out an inspection on Talisman Sinopec’s North Sea Clyde platform, 159 of which had not been approved for deferral.
Energy Voice. Evening Express. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
USA: Study finds cancer chemicals at fracking sites
Tests of air around homes near natural gas drilling wells and other production equipment in five US states have found sometimes grossly elevated levels of chemicals linked to cancer. The results of the study, published in the journal Environmental Health, noted: “Benzene, formaldehyde, and hydrogen sulphide were the most common compounds to exceed acute and other health-based risk levels.”
Gregg Macey, David Carpenter and others. Air concentrations of volatile compounds near oil and gas production: a community-based exploratory study, Environmental Health, volume 13:82, 2014. Times Union • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
Britain: Dismay as ministers say no to copter inquiry
Unions have expressed their dismay after ministers rejected calls for an independent public inquiry into helicopter safety prompted by a series of offshore ditching incidents and deaths. Mick Cash, general secretary of the offshore union RMT, said he was “appalled” at the government refusal to hold a “full independent and public inquiry into helicopter safety.”
Transport Select Committee helicopter safety webpages • BALPA news release • RMT news release • Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • The Herald • Risks 678 • 1 November 2014
Britain: Frackers could be allowed to use 'any substance'
The UK government plans to allow fracking companies to put “any substance” under people’s homes and property and leave it there, under an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill debated by the House of Lords. The government said the change was part of a package of controversial measures “vital to kickstarting” shale gas exploration.
The Guardian • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Britain: Deadly BP cost cutter to head UK Civil Service
A former oil executive criticised for his role in a deadly BP refinery explosion, and whose last oil company was fined over 50 health and safety violations connected with fracking, has been appointed the first chief executive of the Civil Service. While at BP, an internal company report published in 2007 found John Manzoni should be held accountable for the Texas City refinery blast that killed 15 people and injured 170.
Prime Minister’s Office news release • The Independent • Risks 675 • 11 October 2014
Britain: BP was 'grossly negligent' in 2010 Gulf disaster
A US judge has ruled UK oil multinational BP was “grossly negligent” in the lead-up to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, in which 11 workers died. New Orleans judge Carl Barbier also found BP subcontractors Transocean and Halliburton “negligent.”
BP statement • Wall Street Journal • BBC News Online • Scientific American • BBC Scotland News • More on BP’s safety record • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
USA: High chemical exposures in fracking confirmed
Workers in the fracking industry are exposed to high levels of dangerous chemicals including cancer-causing benzene, an official study has found. The US government’s occupational health research body NIOSH found technicians working over the flowback tanks were routinely exposed to benzene at above its recommended exposure limit.
NIOSH Science blog • Risks 669 • 30 August 2014
Britain: New helicopter safety measure introduced
A new emergency breathing system is being introduced in a bid to give offshore workers a better chance of survival if their helicopter ditches. The system, which combines a life jacket with a small aqualung, is replacing the current hybrid re-breather, which is a life jacket with an air-filled rubber bag.
BBC News Online • Risks 668 • 23 August 2014
Global: Chemicals, dust and deaths mar fracking
US evidence of chemical related deaths, a soaring fatality rate and widespread over-exposure to lung wrecking, cancer-causing dust, has raised seriously unhealthy questions about the UK government’s reassurances on fracking safety. ‘Fracking boom’, a new online report from Hazards, warns that potentially deadly silica dust exposures, toxic chemicals already linked to four US worker deaths during ‘flowback’ operations, and many of the other hazards of more typical extractive industries present underestimated and serious safety and health risks.
Fracking boom, Hazards online report, July 2014 • Risks 663 • 19 July 2014
Britain: No government commitment on helicopter inquiry
The government has refused to commit to a full public inquiry into offshore helicopter safety. Outgoing transport minister Stephen Hammond declined to agree to an inquiry after last week’s Transport Select Committee report backed calls for an official probe.
BBC News Online • Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • Risks 663 • 19 July 2014
Britain: North Sea safety damaged by bullying and complacency
MPs have called for a public inquiry into whether commercial pressure from oil and gas companies and “a creeping complacency” is damaging offshore helicopter safety. The Transport select committee also heard there was a worrying culture of “macho bullying” in the industry, targeting workers who expressed safety concerns.
Transport select committee news release and full report. The Herald. BBC News Online. Morning Star • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Britain: Offshore helicopter safety timetable changed
The timescale for implementing safety changes for offshore helicopter flights have been changed. The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said only allowing passengers to fly if they are seated next to a push-out window exit was being delayed from June until September, but an improved emergency breathing system will be compulsory from January next year rather than April 2016.
BBC News Online • Risks 654 • 17 May 2014
Global: Activists follow Chevron across the globe
Australian trade unionists challenging the labour rights and safety record of oil giant Chevron in its US home state have been welcomed by local activists, groups and politicians who share their concerns. Shannon O’Keeffe, campaigns director at the Sydney office of global transport unions’ federation ITF, said: “In Australia Chevron is suing the MUA and 15 of its members for taking action to ensure that their workplace was safe.”
ITF news release • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
Australia: Petrol tankers are ‘mobile bombs’
An Australian union has told a federal government tribunal that petrol tankers are little more than ‘mobile bombs’. The 29 April Road Safety Tribunal in Sydney was convened to consider minimum safety standards for Australian petrol tankers after research revealed 1 in 4 tanker drivers were pressured to speed and 1 in 2 drivers reported inadequate brake inspections.
TWU news release • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Britain: Docs attack complacency on fracking risks
An official report on the risks posed by fracking in England is complacent on the real risks the practice could pose, an editorial in the British Medical Journal suggests. Dr Seth Shonkoff, executive director for Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, and his colleagues warn that scientific data should drive decisions on health and safety, instead of gestures to understudied assertions of best practice deployment.
BMJ news release • Editorial: Public Health England’s draft report on shale gas extraction, British Medical Journal, 2014;348:g2728 • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Britain: More pressure for helicopter safety inquiry
Offshore safety campaigners, crash survivors and unions came together at this month’s Scottish TUC annual conference to step up the campaign for a public inquiry into UK offshore helicopter safety. The groups said they want Norwegian-style offshore safety reforms to help more workers get back home safe, noting that since 2002 the UK offshore oil and gas industry has suffered 38 fatalities involving offshore helicopter transfers while there have been zero fatalities as a result of helicopter transfers in the Norwegian offshore industry over the same period.
Unite news release • BBC News Online • Morning Star • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Britain: Pilots call for no ‘backsliding’ on helicopter safety
The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) has hit back at suggestions by industry body Oil & Gas UK that safety improvements to North Sea helicopter operations might damage North Sea productivity. Oil & Gas UK, the industry’s trade association, had said safety improvements demanded by authorities after a series of sometimes deadly incidents could negatively impact maintenance and production.
BALPA news release • Shetland Times • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Britain: Study raises concerns over fracking dangers
The lack of publicly available data on the UK's onshore oil and gas drilling means there are significant “unknowns” about the safety of future fracking wells, according to a new study. “The research confirms that well failure in hydrocarbon wells is an issue and that publicly available data in Europe on this seems to be sparse,” said Professor Richard Davies of Durham University, who led the study.
Richard J Davies and others. Oil and gas wells and their integrity: Implications for shale and unconventional resource exploitation, Marine and Petroleum Geology, published online 25 March 2014 • The Guardian • FoE fracking webpages • Dangers of Fracking website • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Britain: Helicopter deaths firm still escaping justice
Scotland’s top lawmaker should bring a criminal prosecution against a helicopter firm whose negligence has been linked to an offshore tragedy, the union Unite has said. The finding of a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) into the April 2009 deaths of 16 men in a Bond Super Puma helicopter crash in the North Sea concluded that the tragedy could have been prevented.
Unite news release • BALPA news release • FAI – Super Puma helicopter crash, full determination • BBC News Online • Energy Voice • Risks 647 • 22 March 2014
Britain: Rig shuts down after North Sea worker dies
An oil worker has died after falling into the water from a North Sea platform. George Bartlett, from Shotts in Lanarkshire, fell from the Taqa’s Harding platform, which is about 200 miles north east of Aberdeen, during “maintenance activity” on 27 February.
Taqa statement • BBC News Online and update • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Britain: Unite calls for action on helicopter safety
A Unite petition signed by thousands of workers was submitted to the Scottish parliament, urging MSPs to help restore ‘shattered confidence’ in offshore helicopter safety. The move coincided with a 27 February Scottish parliamentary debate led by MSP Richard Baker, in support of Unite’s ‘Back Home Safe’ campaign.
Unite news release • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
USA: Free pizza after Chevron fracking explosion kills
One hundred residents of a tiny Pennsylvania town where a fracking well exploded into a deadly tower of flame, killing one person and burning for five days, have received an apology in the form of a pizza coupon. Chevron Appalachia Community Outreach sent local residents a certificate that entitles them to a large meal (‘Special Combo Only’) from Bobtown Pizza following the 11 February tragedy.
TUC Touchstone blog • Pittburgh Post Gazette • ABC News • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
Britain: TUC warning on fracking dangers
Known dangers of shale gas exploitation and the poorly understood risks of fracking processes mean the industry must be tightly regulated, the TUC has warned. In a submission to an inquiry by the House of Lords select committee on economic affairs it notes “there are very limited data regarding occupational health hazards from exposure to the chemicals, proppants and processes used in high volume hydro-fracking.”
TUC news release and TUC response to House of Lords shale gas/fracking inquiry • The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee inquiry into the Economic Impact of Shale Gas and Oil on UK Energy Policy • Risks 643 • 22 February 2014
Britain: Another deadly BP cost cutter gets a top government post
A former oil executive criticised for his role in a deadly BP refinery explosion, and whose last company was fined over 50 health and safety violations connected with fracking, has been appointed to lead the government's Major Projects Authority (MPA). John Manzoni will be responsible for overseeing big-budget projects including the HS2 high-speed rail line and the new nuclear programme, and follows his former BP boss Lord Browne into the Cabinet Office, while former BP Alaska chief John Morgan was appointed by David Cameron to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) board – all three have been criticised in reports and court for corner cutting on safety.
Cabinet Office news release • The Guardian • Financial Times •
Safe hands? BP old boys linked to disasters find favour with the PM, Hazards magazine, number 122, April-June 2013 • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Norway: Oil unions pull out of offshore safety group
Unions representing Norwegian offshore oil rig workers have pulled out of an industry-sponsored safety group amid harsh criticism of cutbacks in safety training. The four unions - Fellesforbundet, Industri Energi, Lederne and SAFE - announced last week they have suspended their membership in the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association's Network for Safety and Emergency Response Training (NSOB), which was established in the wake of the 1980 Alexander Kielland platform disaster in which 123 people died.
UPI News • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Britain: MPs urged to act on offshore helicopter safety
The union Unite has told a committee of MPs that offshore workers want reforms to helicopter safety after a series of serious incidents involving 20 fatalities. The House of Commons’ transport select committee inquiry into helicopter safety took evidence from offshore trade unions and industry bodies in Aberdeen on 27-28 January.
Unite news release • STV News • BBC News Online • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Britain: Pilots want better helicopter safety regulation
Britain’s pilots’ union has called for a judicial review to probe helicopter safety problems in the UK sector of the North Sea. Captain Colin Milne, of the helicopter affairs committee of pilots’ union BALPA, told Westminster’s transport select committee the review was needed to examine the amount of control exercised by oil companies on helicopter flights and the role of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in policing offshore safety in the aviation sector.
BALPA news release • Transport Committee news release and inquiry webpage • The Scotsman • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Britain: New call for a public inquiry on copter safety
Transport and offshore union RMT is stepping up its campaign for a public inquiry into helicopter safety after a series of incidents this year. The union said there is increasing public and political support for an inquiry, covering onshore as well as the North Sea offshore industry.
RMT news release • The Herald • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: Thousands back offshore helicopter safety reform
Over 3,000 offshore workers have called on Oil & Gas UK (O&GUK) bosses to urgently act to improve the safety of helicopter transfers to and from North Sea installations. Unite representatives submitted a petition to O&GUK on 20 December 2013, backing the demands of the union’s ‘Back Home Safe’ campaign which calls for improvements to offshore helicopter design, survival contingencies and training and for the implementation all previous recommendations made by authorities to maximise the safety of workers.
Unite news release • BBC News Online • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: Unite launches safety campaign for offshore workers
Unite has launched a ‘Back Home Safe’ campaign calling for immediate improvements to the safety of offshore flights. Since August’s Super Puma helicopter crash off Shetland, which claimed four lives, the union has conducted an extensive consultation with offshore workers on the safety of offshore flights and found widespread concern.
Unite news release and Back Home Safe campaign on Facebook and Twitter @BackHomeSafe • BBC News Online • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Union concerns over helicopter safety probe
Unions have raised serious concerns about the organisation undertaking a review of offshore helicopter safety and the limited scope of the planned probe. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) investigation follows the crash last month of a CHC-operated Super Puma AS332 L2 off Shetland in which four contract workers died.
Unite news release • BALPA news release • RMT news release • CAA news release • BBC News Online • The Scotsman • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Britain: Another Super Puma develops fault
Following a number of incidents involving Super Puma helicopters operating in the North Sea, including 4 fatalities last month, a number of offshore workers were stranded on a North Sea platform overnight after a fault was detected on a Super Puma helicopter. Press report • Risks 623 • 21 September 2013
Britain: Safety concerns over North Sea gas leak risks
New safety concerns have been raised about an oil and gas field that was shut down last year due to a leak. According to a report from Reuters news agency, the operator of the Elgin field has identified concerns about the corrosive effect of chemicals on pipes. Reuters reports that Total has plans for a costly shutdown of several Elgin wells due to the safety concerns.
BBC News Online • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: MPs to probe offshore helicopter safety
An inquiry is to be launched by a Commons committee into helicopter safety in the wake of a crash of a Super Puma off the Shetland Islands which claimed four lives last month. The Commons transport select committee will hold the inquiry into the fatal this and other incidents amid concerns over the safety of the Super Puma helicopter by the oil and gas industry.
Transport select committee news release • TUC helicopter safety motion • Unite news release • GMB news release • BALPA news release • The Scotsman • BBC News Online • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
USA: BP sues US government over contracts ban
BP is suing the US government for barring the company from obtaining new federal contracts. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned BP last November, blaming the firm's “lack of business integrity” after the Deepwater Horizon explosion. CPR Blog • The Telegraph • Common Dreams • BBC News Online • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Britain: Oil firms still paying for Deepwater Horizon
The criminal neglect that led to the Deepwater Horizon disaster is continuing to hurt the reputation and bottom line of the companies involved. London-based oil multinational BP has admitted the $20bn compensation fund it set up to pay claims related to the 2010 rig failure, which killed 11 workers and smeared the Gulf of Mexico in oil, is running out of cash.
BP Second Quarter 2013 results • BBC News Online • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
USA: Halliburton admits it destroyed death rig evidence
Halliburton, the US contractor responsible for cementing the Deepwater Horizon well, has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence relating to the tragedy. The plea agreement, which is subject to court approval, means Halliburton will have to pay the maximum possible fine.
Halliburton news release. and BBC News Online • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Britain: Safety cuts increase the risk of a new Piper Alpha
Unions have warned the government is risking a repeat of the Piper Alpha disaster by slashing safety budgets and regulation. The alert, which also warned about the need for the industry to invest in safety, came in Aberdeen at a conference organised by the industry lobby group Oil and Gas UK to mark 25 years since the oil platform explosion killed 167 people.
Morning Star • Scotsman. BBC News Online • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Britain: 'Major' offshore gas and oil leaks up
The number of major gas and oil leaks from the UK's offshore installations rose last year from three to nine, the highest figure in 14 years. HSE chair Judith Hackitt commented: “The rise in the number of major releases show that there is a need for constant vigilance and attention as assets continue to age.”
BBC News Online • HSE news release • Oil and Gas UK • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Britain: BP wants Cameron’s help with disaster costs
BP wants prime minister David Cameron to intervene over the escalating compensation costs arising from the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster in 2010. BP feels its financial recovery is in jeopardy and it could become a target for a takeover.
BBC News Online • More on BP’s safety record • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Britain: BP’s safety record in the spotlight again
BP’s profits dipped in the first quarter as the UK-based oil multinational revealed it had paid out more than half of the cash it had set aside to cover the cost of damages caused by the 2010 rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. BP's safety record took another knock on 30 April – the same day it released its quarterly results - when Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) censured the company for the second time in two years, after a potentially deadly September 2012 incident at BP’s Ula oilfield in the North Sea.
BP news release and BP quarterly results and webcast • PSA Norway news release • The Guardian and related story. • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
USA: BP and the uncivilised truth about civil fines
As the US civil trial began this week against energy giant BP for its environmental negligence in 2010’s deadly Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, a workers’ health campaign group has said it is “struck by the vast discrepancy in the size of fines that can be assessed under federal environmental laws and those that can be levied for unsafe conditions leading to the death of a worker.”
National COSH blog • BBC News Online • The Independent • Los Angeles Times • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
USA: BP's record $4bn criminal penalties approved
A US court has approved the biggest criminal penalties deal in US history, given to British oil giant BP as part of a settlement related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. In November 2012, BP said it would pay $4bn (£2.5bn) to the US Department of Justice and agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges.
BP news release • New York Times • BBC News Online • More on BP’s safety record • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Global: BP’s top brass get off the hook
By admitting fault, paying a huge fine and allowing two rig level managers to take the rap for the Deepwater Horizon disaster, London-based oil giant BP has avoided any member of its board facing the courts. Following a deal cut last week with federal authorities, where the firm agreed to a record $4.5bn fine and rig supervisors Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine were indicted for involuntary manslaughter, questions have reemerged about the apparent immunity of the company’s leaders from prosecution.
Department of Justice news release • Attorney General Eric Holder and Assistant Attorney General Lanny A Breuer speak at the BP news conference. BP news release • BP guilty plea • Washington Post • Businessweek • The Guardian • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Global: Offshore criminal BP to get record fine
London-based multinational BP is set to receive a record fine of between $4.5bn to settle criminal charges related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. The settlement is the biggest criminal penalty in US history.
BP statement and third quarter results • BBC News Online • The Guardian • More on BP’s safety record • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Britain: Offshore firms must ‘innovate’ on involvement
The offshore industry must improve its performance on worker involvement, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said. A report on the watchdog’s KP4 inspection programme on the management of ageing offshore installations warns “more innovative work is required across the industry to involve the workforce in this issue which is vital to everyone’s long-term future.”
KP4 interim report, HSE, November 2012 • SHP Online • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Britain: Union renews safety call after latest helicopter ditching
The RMT has launched a joint, industry-wide campaign on safety with Norwegian union colleagues after the latest ditching of a Super Puma helicopter off Shetland in late October. This ditching, where due to prompt action by crew all on board were rescued, followed a similar gearbox related emergency in the North Sea in May.
RMT news release • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Britain: Offshore unions call for caution on offshore flights
Flights to and from the UK’s oil platforms should be stopped in extreme weather conditions rather than opting to rely on a cargo retrieval system to pluck crash victims from the sea, unions have said.
Sign the Unite petition • For more information and video clips of the Dacon Scoop in use, see the Unite website • Risks 578 • 20 October 2012
Europe: Commission told to back off on offshore safety
A move to give Europe control of offshore oil and gas safety has been watered down by a committee of MEPs. The European Commission planned to introduce tough regulation following the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, fearing the risk of a major offshore incident in European waters is unacceptably high.
European Parliament industry committee 9 October meeting webpage • Oil & Gas UK news release • BBC News Online • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Britain: Safety woes continue to dog BP
The hangover from BP’s deadly safety errors is continuing. This week the company received two more doses of bad news, with investors seeking damages relating to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster and US authorities accusing BP of gross negligence. Investment Week • The Telegraph • BBC News Online • Financial Times • The Guardian • More on BP’s safety record • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Venezuela: Chávez orders deadly refinery blast probe
Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez has ordered an urgent investigation to find the cause of a huge explosion at the country's biggest oil refinery. At least 41 people died in the 25 August blast at the Amuay plant in Falcon state, in the north-west of the country.
BBC News Online • The Guardian • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
Australia: Poor safety laws fuel offshore dangers
The deaths of two workers on a drilling rig off the Australian coast on 27 August underlines the need for offshore petroleum workers to be given the same workplace health and safety rights as those on dry land, national union federation ACTU has said. It is believed the men died when part of a 40-year-old drill dislodged and struck them as they worked on the Stena Clyde rig, which was involved in exploration for a new gas field.
ACTU news release • AWU news release • NOPSEMA news release • ABC News • Herald Sun • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
Global: Company safety record challenged
One of the world's leading oil companies, Chevron has had its reputation for having a good safety record challenged in a leading US newspaper. The San Francisco Chronicle pointed to a number of serious and fatal accidents in recent years and asked if something has gone wrong with Chevron's vaunted safety culture. Chevron is a strong proponent of behavioural safety systems.
San Francisco Chronicle • TUC Behavioural safety guide • Hazards Behavioural safety webpages • What are we to make of safe behaviour programs? A. Hopkins, Safety Science 2006 • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
Global: BP’s bemoans $multibillion burden of being unsafe
A much worse than anticipated decline in the fortunes of the UK-based oil giant BP can be explained in a large part by its safety-related woes, the company has admitted. Commenting on publication of its ‘weak’ results for the second quarter of 2012, chief executive Bob Dudley said factors including a fall in oil prices had hit the industry as a whole, but added the results that prompted a steep drop in the company’s share price were down to “a combination of factors affecting both the sector and BP specifically.”
BP news release and Stock Exchange announcement • The Telegraph • The Guardian • The Independent • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
USA: Oil industry ignored lessons of tragedy
Safety lessons from a deadly 2005 BP oil refinery explosion that could have helped prevent the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy were not learned by either oil firms or the regulators, an official investigation has concluded. Noting the lack of sustained focus on process safety, US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) investigator Cheryl MacKenzie described an “eerie resemblance” between the 2005 explosion at the BP Texas City refinery and the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon.
CSB news release • The Guardian • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Britain: Dangerous backdrop to offshore gathering
Activists from the offshore branch of maritime and transport union RMT gathered in Dundee this week for a conference where safety issues were a looming concern. The meeting came less than two weeks after Bond Helicopters was forced to ground their fleet for urgent safety checks following a ditching and safe recovery in the North Sea and also follows ongoing safety fears in the wake of the March 2012 gas blowout on the Elgin platform, which lead to an evacuation and an exclusion zone.
RMT news release • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
Britain: Unions and industry oppose offshore rule change
Trade unions and the oil and gas industry have joined forces to warn of the dangers of the European Union’s proposed regulation of offshore oil and gas safety. The concerns were raised this week in a joint statement from Oil & Gas UK and offshore unions RMT and Unite.
Joint UK industry and trade union position paper: On the European Commission’s proposals for a Regulation on the ‘safety of offshore oil and gas prospection, exploration and production activities’ [pdf] • Oil & Gas UK news release • BBC News Online • . STV News • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
USA: Concern after oil worker is boiled to death
California's largest oil company failed to warn employees of the dangers in an oil field where a worker was sucked underground and boiled to death last year, state authorities found - and then they fined the firm $350. The small regulatory penalty has angered union leaders and reignited a debate over the risks of the extraction technique that led to the worker's death.
Los Angeles Times • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
Britain: Offshore union wants wider exclusion zone
Offshore union Unite has called for the exclusion zone around the crippled Elgin platform in the North Sea to be extended. Unite regional officer Willie Wallace said “the oil companies must put people before profit and we are now calling for them to bring forward plans for an immediate evacuation of the impacted area.”
Unite Scotland news release • Daily Record • BBC News Online • HSE statement • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Britain: ‘Massive relief’ at safe gas platform evacuations
Offshore union RMT has expressed its “massive relief” at the safe evacuation of the Elgin gas platform. A gas leak on the Total E&P UK (TEP UK) Elgin PUQ platform, about 150 miles (240km) off the coast of Aberdeen, led to the withdrawal of all 238 workers.
Total webpage on the Elgin gas leak • RMT news release • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Britain: Union no to offshore flying in extreme weather
The union representing offshore oil industry pilots has said its members could refuse to fly in extreme weather. BALPA said pilots had concerns over a new ‘Dacon Scoop’ safety device, a net system for retrieving casualties from the water.
BALPA news release • BBC News Online • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Britain: Panel finds safety reps are ‘crucial’ offshore
Safety reps are ‘crucial’ to ensuring safety offshore and should have more support from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a government-commissioned report has concluded. A panel headed by Professor Geoffrey Maitland of Imperial College, London concluded “workforce safety representatives have a crucial role to play.”
DECC news release • Offshore oil and gas in the UK – an independent review of the regulatory regime, December 2011 [pdf] • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Britain: BP’s repeated offshore safety failures revealed
The British oil giant BP has repeatedly breached criminal safety regulations on all its rigs in the North Sea over the last year, according to the government watchdog, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The multinational company has kept failing to comply with the HSE’s statutory instructions to improve risk assessments after a series of alarming near-misses on several oil platforms.
Robedwards.com • CPR Blog • Hazards magazine • Risks 528 • 22 October 2011
Britain: Oil giant Talisman challenges official safety notice
A North Sea oil company is challenging a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) improvement notice issued because the safety watchdog said workers were living in overcrowded conditions on an offshore platform. The improvement notice was issued to Talisman Energy (UK) Ltd after an inspection of the Tartan Alpha platform.
BBC News Online • HSE notices issued to Talisman • Risks 526 • 8 October 2011
Britain: Many offshore firms still fail to consult workers
Offshore workers’ union RMT has criticised oil companies for “fundamentally failing” to involve workers in health and safety matters on rigs and has demanded improvements. The union was commenting after the publication of a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) review of the effectiveness of the offshore safety representatives and safety committees regulations.
RMT news release • HSE offshore worker involvement webpages • Offshore workforce involvement and consultation. Offshore Installations (Safety Representatives and Safety Committees) Regulations 1989: Compliance Inspection Project, HSE, 2011 [pdf] • STV Scotland • Risks 525 • 1 October 2011
Europe: MEPs back safer oil rigs with safety reps
Euro-MPs have called for tougher oil rig safety standards, support for elected offshore safety reps and job protection for safety whistleblowers. The overwhelming 602-64 vote of the European Parliament on 13 September also backed a call “on the industry to follow best practice on safety representatives,” adding “employees should be able to elect a safety representative who is involved in safety issues at all levels of the operational and decision-making process.”
European Parliament news release • Peter Skinner MEP news release • The Independent • Risks 523 • 17 September 2011
USA: BP disaster report calls for stronger regulation
A US federal government report into the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico has castigated UK multinational BP and its contractors and recommended stronger regulations and more surprise inspections by official safety agencies.
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement news release and final report [pdf] • Deepwater Joint Investigation website • BBC News Online • Wall Street Journal • Montreal Gazette • The Guardian • Risks 523 • 17 September 2011
Britain: Video adds to rusting rigs fears
Lingering concerns over the state of some of the UK’s oil rigs has been rekindled by video footage showing walkways in a state of near collapse. An offshore worker can be seen in the video, which was filmed on an undisclosed rig last month, easily hammering a hole through the metal walkway of one of the platforms, sending chunks of the metal frame tumbling into the sea below.
Video footage on Facebook • Sunday Express • Risks 523 • 17 September 2011
USA: BP faces renewed blast criticism
BP and its former chief executive Tony Hayward are facing further accusations of insensitivity regarding the victims of the 2010 BP Gulf of Mexico disaster. A videotaped deposition deposition includes details of a legal pleading filed by BP referring to the 11 victims as “callous, indifferent and grossly negligent in causing this explosion.”
Daily Caller • Risks 513 • 9 July 2011
Britain: Oil giant INEOS fined £100,000 for leak
INEOS Manufacturing Scotland Limited has been fined £100,000 following an uncontrolled release of crude oil at its Grangemouth refinery in May 2008. The incident happened when a pipeline containing crude oil became over pressurised as a result of a process known as thermal expansion.
HSE news release • Risks 513 • 9 July 2011
Britain: Worker dies after fall from Shell oil rig
An experienced oil worker has died after he plunged from a North Sea oil rig. Lee Bertram, from Northumberland, fell from Shell’s Brent Charlie platform – about 120 miles north east of Lerwick in Shetland – on 16 June.
The Journal • STV News • Daily Record • Risks 511 • 25 June 2011
Britain: Shell ignored warnings before blast
Oil multinational Shell UK ignored safety warnings from its staff before a gas terminal blast that could have killed, a court has heard. The company was fined £1m plus £242,000 costs at Norwich Crown Court after admitted seven safety and pollution offences following the explosion and fire at the Bacton terminal in Norfolk in February 2008.
Environment Agency news release • BBC News Online • Norwich Advertiser • Risks 511 • 25 June 2011
USA: Oil industry shareholders face safety truths
A US union has put its oil industry safety concerns right under the noses of shareholders at major firms. Shareholder resolutions have been filed on USW’s behalf at Marathon Oil, Valero, Tesoro and ConocoPhillips, calling on the companies to improve disclosures on safety at oil refineries.
USW news release • ICEM news report • Risks 505 • 14 May 2011
USA: Transocean 'contributed' to Gulf disaster
A lax safety culture and poorly working kit aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig contributed to last year's explosion, the US Coast Guard has concluded. In a report on the incident, which killed 11 rig workers and caused a massive spill, the agency criticised the practices and training of rig owner Transocean, noting: “Deepwater Horizon and its owner, Transocean, had serious safety management system failures and a poor safety culture.”
US Coast Guard report • BBC News Online • Risks 503 • 30 April 2011
Britain: Backlash on oil spill execs safety bonuses
Executives at Transocean, the multinational offshore drilling contractor at the centre of last year’s deadly Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, have said they will give away bonuses they got for the company’s “exemplary” safety record that year. The decision came just days after the company disclosed the bonuses deep in a submission to a regulator, triggering intense criticism.
Washington Post on the backlash and the Transocean director safety bonuses • OSHA news release • CNN • BBC News Online • Risks 501 • 9 April 2011
Global: BP executives may face jail for manslaughter
Managers of UK oil multinational BP could face manslaughter charges when prosecutors in the United States finally conclude their criminal investigation into the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 rig workers and triggered the worst oil spill in US history. The possibility that these and other charges may now be on the table at the US Justice Department put new pressure on the shares of the energy giant.
Bloomberg News • The Independent • Daily Mail • Financial Times • The Guardian • IFA Online • Risks 500 • 2 April 2010
Britain: Transocean worker gets £160,000 payout
A UK offshore worker with US multinational Transocean has received a £160,000 payout because he is at a disadvantage in the labour market after being injured on a rig. Martin Brand, 27, had two fingers partially amputated in May 2006 after his right hand was crushed while working on a semi submersible rig in the North Sea.
Scotsman • Risks 500 • 2 April 2010
USA: New oil spill report is bad news for BP
The Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, which killed 11 workers in April 2010, was the fault of all the key companies involved, a series of reports have concluded. But one other theme has emerged, confirmed in a new report from the chief counsel to the President’s oil spill commission – BP was more culpable than the other parties.
Oil Spill Commission Chief Counsel’s report • Washington Post • New York Times. Fairwarning • Risks 495 • 26 February 2011
USA: BP boss ‘quit over safety fears’
A former BP drilling operations chief resigned just months before last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill amid disagreements over the oil giant's commitment to safety, a US class action lawsuit alleges. Documents lodged in Houston, Texas, claim Kevin Lacy quit as BP’s senior vice-president for drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico in December 2009 – because he believed the company was not adequately committed to improving safety protocols in offshore operations to the level of its industry peers.
Democracy Now • Washington Post • Daily Express • Aberdeen Press and Journal •
More on BP’s safety record • Risks 494 • 19 February 2011
Britain: BP put North Sea rig workers at risk
UK-based oil multinational BP is failing to perform enough safety checks on operations in the North Sea, putting the safety of rig workers at risk, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said. The company has until 31 May to remedy the criminal safety breaches identified in an HSE improvement notice.
Bloomberg News • HSE improvement notice • Risks 493 • 12 February 2011
USA: Cost-cutting blamed for deadly oil disaster
A major US report into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has called for wide-ranging reforms of the oil industry to prevent a repeat of the disaster. The report from the US presidential oil spill commission said BP, Transocean and Halliburton had cut corners to save time and money - decisions that contributed to the disaster.
Oil spill commission website and final report [pdf] • BBC News Online • The Guardian.
Public Citizen campaign to get the US government to act on the commission findings • Risks 489 • 15 January 2011.
Britain: ‘Serious doubts’ over UK oil spill preparation
A committee of MPs has raised ‘serious doubts’ about the UK's ability to combat oil spills from deep sea rigs following the BP Gulf of Mexico oil disaster last year. The Energy and Climate Change Committee also warned that taxpayers could pay for a major spill in the North Sea, but said a moratorium on deep sea drilling would undermine the UK's energy security and is unnecessary.
Energy and Climate Change Committee news release and report • HSE offshore injury and incident statistics 2009/10, December 2010 [pdf] • BBC News Online • The Telegraph • Yorkshire Post • The Independent • Risks 489 • 15 January 2011
USA: Last year’s death rig, this year’s top stock
What was bad news for workers and the environment around the Gulf of Mexico, might not be such bad news for Transocean. The firm that owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded in April 2010 with the loss of 11 lives has made Fortune Magazine’s top 10 stocks listing for 2011 – and not only is Transocean’s share price set to soar, according to the magazine, it also has a copper-bottomed get-out contract clause from liability for the disaster.
Fortune magazine • Risks 488 • 8 January 2011
USA: President's panel slams complacent oil firms
Three major companies involved in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill lacked a safety culture and made serious mistakes ahead of the catastrophe, an official inquiry into the disaster has said. The White House oil spill commission said there was a culture of complacency at BP, Transocean and Halliburton.
Statement from Oil Spill Commission co-chair Bill Reilly • National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling • BBC News Online and related story • The Guardian • Dallas Morning News • Risks 482 • 13 November 2010
USA: BP and Halliburton knew of dangers
The US presidential commission investigating the BP oil spill has reached a stark conclusion about a factor that contributed to the deadly 20 April drilling explosion: The cement used to seal the bottom of the well was faulty. Moreover, cement contractor Halliburton and BP both knew it.
New York Times • FairWarnings • Courthouse News • The Guardian • More on BP’s safety record • Risks 481 • 6 November 2010
USA: BP accidents linked to cuts
As BP transformed itself into the world’s third largest private oil company it developed a culture of austerity in pursuit of corporate efficiency, lean budgets and shareholder profits, an investigation has concluded. But safety and the environment were casualties of the company’s “furious growth” strategy, the ProPublica probe found.
ProPublica news report • Risks 480 • 30 October 2010
Global: BP links bonuses to safety performance
Bonuses for the fourth quarter for BP staff will be based solely on how employees perform in terms of safety and risk management, Bob Dudley, the UK oil multinational’s new chief executive, has told its 80,000 employees worldwide. The bonus strategy is certain to come in for close scrutiny as similar schemes have been found to encourage managers to suppress injury reports and discourage sick leave in a bid to secure larger payouts.
BBC News Online • The Herald • Financial Times • More on BP’s safety record • Risks 479 • 23 October 2010
Global: BP safety talk is all about shareholders
The creation by BP of a new global safety unit with “sweeping powers” has the safety of shareholders’ money as its “ultimate goal”, the company’s top boss has admitted. BP chair Carl-Henric Svanberg said there were “difficult challenges ahead” but added “we have assembled a strong and able new team and are developing a robust strategy to deal with them and to deliver our ultimate goal – the restoration of shareholder value.” BP news release • Green jobs, safe jobs blog • Houston Chronicle • More on BP’s safety record • Risks 477 • 9 October 2010
Britain: BP price surges as spill concerns dissipate
The share price of UK oil multinational BP soared this week after it indicated the leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico had been “killed”. The share price surge came as more optimistic analysts predicted legal claims arising from the disaster could be significantly below the $20bn (£13bn) set aside by BP and a leading US campaign group, Public Citizen, has ended its call for a boycott of the oil company.
Green jobs blog • BP news release • Risks 475 • 25 September 2010
Britain: BP cited for North Sea safety lapses
BP's operations in the North Sea were investigated six months before the Gulf of Mexico explosion amid questions about staff safety training, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) correspondence reveals. HSE found new staff were not being trained to 'basic safety standards', according to a letter obtained under freedom of information laws.
The Daily Telegraph • Daily Mail • Financial Times • The Independent • Risks 474 • 18 September 2010
Britain: BP spreads blame on oil spill
BP was not solely to blame for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the related deaths, injuries and environmental harm, the UK multinational’s own investigation has concluded. Instead, “a sequence of failures involving a number of different parties”, including cementing contractor Halliburton and rig owner Transocean, led to the explosion on 20 April that killed 11 workers and led to environmentally devastating oil pollution across the region.
BP news release, related video and internal investigation report • BBC News Online • More on BP’s safety record • Risks 473 • 11 September 2010
USA: BP quizzed on its safety record
US federal investigators last week pressed senior BP officials about whether the company had a troubled record of safety problems even before the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster. Time after time, BP appeared to have gambled with safety, said a chair of the panel, Captain Hung Nguyen of the Coast Guard, noting: “One dot is a point, two dots is a line, and three dots is a trend... There’s a trend there about the safety culture of BP.”
New York Times • Boston Globe • More on BP’s safety record • Risks 472 • 4 September 2010
USA: BP agrees to record death blast fine
London-based oil multinational BP has agreed to pay a fine of $50.6 million (£32.5m) for violations related to the 2005 explosion at its Texas City refinery that killed 15 and injured 170. The company also must pay another $500 million to protect workers at the plant, Labor secretary Hilda Solis said.
OSHA news release, remarks by Labor secretary Hilda Solis and the full agreement [pdf] • USW statement. AFL-CIO Now blog • FairWarning • BBC News Online • More on BP’s safety record • Risks 470 • 21 August 2010
USA: Labour shortages increase offshore risks
The US offshore oil industry is struggling to address the pervasive problem of undertrained and overstretched workers on deepwater rigs like the one used in the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. As the number of huge, high-tech drilling rigs has soared in recent years, finding and keeping experienced staff has become a growing challenge for the offshore industry.
Wall Street Journal • Risks 469 • 14 August 2010
USA: BP safety boss ‘rather offensive’
A top safety official at BP last month faltered in an attempt to defend the company's safety record before a US Senate committee. BP's vice president of health and safety, Steve Flynn, vowed profit does not supersede safety at the oil multinational, a claim that failed to mollify members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee's employment panel.
New York Times • In These Times • Washington Post • More on BP’s safety record • Risks 468 • 7 August 2010
USA: BP’s clean up safety claims queried
BP monitoring figures that show even the oil clean-up workers in the riskiest jobs in the Gulf of Mexico are generally having minimal exposures to hazardous chemicals have been queried by experts. Eileen Senn, an occupational hygienist and long-time workplace safety official, pointed to 10 separate shortcomings in the quality of the company's data release, which OSHA said concentrated on workers with the heaviest potential exposures, including the move to sample for 11 chemicals when many more substances are potentially present in Gulf air.
New York Times • Labor Notes • Sciencecorps on the Gulf oil spill hazards • Risks 367 • 31 July 2010
Who pays BP’s disaster bill? You do
If you thought the multi-billion dollar costs of destroying refineries and oil rigs (and killing workers, ruining livelihoods and wrecking the environment in the process), might have a chastening effect on BP, you might need to think again. BP is forecast to pay about $10bn less tax over the next four years as it meets the costs of its huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, hitting the revenues of Britain and the US that receive hundreds of millions of dollars from the company each year.
Green jobs, safe jobs blog • Risks 465 • 17 July 2010
Britain: Government to adopt BP business model
John Browne, Tony Hayward’s predecessor as chief executive of BP, has been appointed by the UK government to oversee moves to make Whitehall “more businesslike.” Lord Browne was the architect of the much criticised BP cost- and safety-cutting strategy implicated in the Texas City refinery disaster, which killed 15, and a sequence of other safety and environmental crimes.
Cabinet Office news release • Green jobs, safety jobs blog • BBC News Online • AFL-CIO Now blog • Risks 463 • 3 June 2010
Britain: BP’s unsafe UK record exposed
The troubled oil giant BP has been caught breaking health and safety regulations 54 times over the past five years in the UK, according to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) records. The official action against the British multinational relates to a series of maintenance and operating lapses which put workers and the environment at risk from major leaks, fires and accidents in the North Sea and elsewhere.
Sunday Herald • More on BP’s safety record • Risks 463 • 3 June 2010
USA: BP disaster victims could lose out
Thanks to a 90-year-old legal loophole, the families of the 11 workers killed on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig may be denied full compensation for the loss of their loved ones. Under the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA), unlike occupational fatalities on land – where the worker's family can sue for both pecuniary (lost wages) and non-pecuniary damages (recompense for the loss of a loved one) - the families of the victims of the Deepwater Horizon disaster are only able to recoup lost wages.
In These Times • Risks 462 • 26 June 2010
USA: Probe to fine ‘root causes’ of BP well disaster
The Chemical Safety Board (CSB), the organisation that investigated BP’s Texas City disaster and pinned much of the blame on the company’s London-based global board, is to investigate the “root causes” of the latest industrial catastrophe blighting BP’s record.
CSB investigation announcement [pdf] • Risks 462 • 26 June 2010
USA: Oil companies all fail the safety test
Members of the US Congress tore into the big energy corporations on 15 June for filing almost identical and identically flawed Gulf of Mexico oil spill response plans. The verbal assault by committee members undermined attempts by the oil giants to suggest that their working practices differ from those of BP; and that the catastrophe, which killed 11 workers, would not have happened if the well had been theirs.
Green jobs blog • Risks 461 • 19 June 2010
Britain: US oil spill prompts UK rig action
Energy secretary Chris Huhne has said the UK government will increase its inspection of drilling rigs and monitoring of offshore compliance with legal standards. In addition to increased scrutiny by his department (DECC), the government has asked a new oil industry-led group, OSPRAG, to report back on the UK’s ability to prevent and respond to oil spills.
DECC news release • HSE comment on Deepwater Horizon • The Independent • Risks 460 • 12 June 2010
Britain: Don’t just criticise BP ‘criminals’, try them
Can you have serial crimes but no criminal? Critics say BP’s directors have proved as slippery as the gulf’s oil smeared coastline, with none so far facing criminal charges relating to the Deepwater Horizon disaster or other deadly incidents.
The White House blog • US Department of Justice news release • The Progressive • Creators.com • ITUC/Hazards green jobs, safe jobs blog and related BP criticism • Think Progress • CNN News • Risks 460 • 12 June 2010
USA: Rig spill clean up makes workers sick
A chemical dispersant being used to fight the gulf oil spill is making workers sick, recent reports suggest. The disaster, where BP has failed repeatedly to stem the oil gusher and which started with an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers, has led to an increasing clamour for criminal charges to be levelled at BP, the company that owns the well.
Green jobs, safe jobs blog • New York Times • Minnesota Independent • Working In These Times • Truthout • Nola.com • BBC News Online • The Guardian • Fairwarning • Risks 459 • 5 June 2010
Britain: BP spill prompts North Sea discussions
North Sea oil industry leaders have created an advisory group to review procedures in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico disaster. The Oil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group (OSPRAG) was formed by the industry body Oil and Gas UK and includes offshore unions Unite and RMT, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and other government agencies.
Offshore Magazine • BBC News Online • Risks 459 • 5 June 2010
Global: Will BP’s ‘disaster-prone’ board face jail?
Directors of BP’s London-based global board seem to be above justice when it comes to the firm's serial workplace safety and environmental crimes, claims a new report. Campaigning magazine Hazards, which has been monitoring the multinational’s safety performance for years, says if more attention had been paid to BP’s deadly workplace safety record the risks would have been “shockingly apparent”.
ITUC/Hazards green jobs blog and BP webpages • The Daily Beast • Greenpeace BP logo competition • CBS News • Risks 458 • 29 May 2010
USA: Obama to set up oil spill commission
US President Barack Obama has vowed to end the “cosy relationship” between oil companies and US regulators in the light of the Gulf of Mexico disaster. He also condemned “the ridiculous spectacle” of oil executives “falling over each other to point the finger of blame.”
BBC News Online on the presidential commission and the blame game • The Guardian • In These Times • Center for Public Integrity news report • More on BP’s safety record • Risks 457 • 22 May 2010
USA: More regulation is the solution
Whether the problem is blood spilled in the workplace or oil spilled in the oceans, a series of recent disasters show why more regulation of profit-hungry industries is needed, a US union leader has said. “Twenty-nine dead coal miners in West Virginia, seven dead workers at an oil refinery in Washington State and 11 dead on a Gulf of Mexico oil rig followed by an ecological calamity, all in the span of a month, illustrate in blood the need for more regulation and stiffer enforcement,” said Leo W Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers (USW).
AFL-CIO Now blog • In These Times • Risks 456 • 15 May 2010
Global: BP accused over rig safety
Oil giant BP is facing accusations that it lobbied against new offshore safety rules and breached “numerous regulations” at a rig that exploded on 20 April, where 11 workers are missing presumed dead.
Huffington Post • The Guardian • Risks 454 • 1 May 2010
USA: BP fined again for ‘wilful’ safety breaches
The US government safety watchdog has fined British oil giant BP PLC $3 million (£2m), citing a catalogue of ‘wilful’ safety breaches at its Toledo, Ohio, refinery. The move comes just four months after it imposed a record safety penalty on the company over its refinery in Texas.
OSHA news release • Wall Street Journal • Risks 447 • 13 March 2010
Britain: HSE warns oil industry
HSE chair Judith Hackitt has warned the UK oil and gas industry that they must not allow short-term business pressures to blind them to the real and potentially devastating human and business consequences of neglecting process safety and asset integrity. Unions have campaigned for many years for a tougher line against the oil and gas extraction and processing industry which, they claim has a lack safety culture and are not doing enough to ensure that their ageing rigs are safe.
HSE press release • Risks 444 • , 20 February 2010
USA: Poisoned BP workers get $100m payout
A federal jury in Texas has ordered UK-based multinational BP plc to pay $100 million (£62.5m) to 10 workers who were sickened by a 2007 chemical release at its Texas City refinery. Tony Buzbee represents another 133 workers suing BP over the chemical release and says originally his clients asked BP for $5,000 each in damages, but went to trial when BP wouldn't budge from a $500 settlement offer to each worker.
Buzbee Law Firm news release • Houston Chronicle • Risks 438 • 9 January 2009
Britain: HSE pulls director leadership case histories
The Health and Safety Executive has removed a “directors’ leadership” case history on BP from its website, after the watchdog was criticised for providing an undeserved public relations push for “a serial safety offender.” The criticism of BP came in a 2 November letter sent by campaigning magazine Hazards to HSE chief executive Geoffrey Podger in the wake of a record US safety fine on BP for failing to remedy hundreds of problems at its Texas City refinery.
Letter from Hazards to HSE chief executive Geoffrey Podger • HSE director leadership case histories • Risks 432 • 14 November 2009
USA: BP hit with largest ever safety fine
British multinational BP has been hit with the USA’s largest ever safety fine. US labor secretary Hilda Solis announced on 30 October that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had levied the largest fine in its history - $87.4 million [over £53m] - against BP for failing to correct safety problems identified after a 2005 explosion that killed 15 workers at its Texas City refinery.
OSHA/Department of Labor news release and BP prosecution webpage • New York Times • AFL-CIO blog • BBC News Online • Risks 431 • 7 November 2009
Global: BP ‘failed’ to make safety changes
London-based multinational BP’s claims to have long since addressed the safety malaise in its refineries have been discredited after the latest intervention by the US safety regulator. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) told BP last month it had failed to make agreed-upon safety improvements at its Texas City refinery following the March 2005 explosions that killed 15 workers.
Galveston Daily News • Risks 426 • 4 October 2009
Browne’s BP blast ignorance revealed
It took more than a year for a dogged Texan lawyer, Brent Coon, to get the former BP boss Lord Browne to answer questions on the legal record about the Texas City oil disaster. A transcript of an hour-long deposition given by Browne about the 2005 tragedy at BP's Texas City refinery in which a group of exhausted labourers overfilled a dilapidated vertical drum with chemicals, causing an explosion which showered burning liquid over accommodation trailers nearby revealed Browne had extremely limited knowledge of the incident.
Transcript of Lord John Browne deposition [pdf] • Brent Coon Texas City Explosion website and court documents • The Guardian • Risks 367 • 2 August 2008
BP again avoids a jury verdict
London-based oil multinational BP Plc has again avoided a jury verdict over the deadly 2005 explosion at its Texas refinery by settling claims of four injured workers before all evidence could be presented in a court case in Galveston, Texas. The curtailed legal proceedings have ensured top BP bosses at the time of the disaster have avoided the stand.
Risks 366 • 26 July 2008
BP neglect caused asbestos cancer
BP Oil UK has been told it must pay compensation to the family of a former worker who died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. Unite member Wilf Human worked at the firm’s refinery on the Isle of Grain from 1957 until 1979.
Risks 363 • 5 July 2008
BP looks to cut costs again
The oil giant BP has said it will cut 5,000 jobs, about 5 per cent of its global workforce, after reporting “very disappointing” profits after refining margins were squeezed and costs rose. It was a similar cost cutting programme in 2004 that an investigation concluded contributed to the March 2005 BP Texas City refinery blast that killed 15 and injured 170.
Houston Chronicle • Risks 342 • 9 February 2008
The refinery that just keeps on killing
US investigators have opened a probe into the latest death at BP's Texas City refinery, the third since 15 people were killed there in a catastrophic March 2005 explosion. Preliminary reports suggested a chemical explosion may have contributed to over-pressuring, leading a lid on a water vessel to rip from its bolts, causing William Gracia, a veteran BP supervisor, fatal head injuries.
Risks 340 • 26 January 2008
Global: BP exhausts $1.6bn
Texas claims fund
London-based oil multinational BP has said it has spent all of its $1.6 billion (about £0.8bn) fund for paying claims over the refinery explosion in Texas and faces unknown costs for the remaining claims. The company had already increased the size of the fund twice as more claims were filed and settled.
International Herald Tribune • 22 December 2007
Global: BP gets record
fine and probation
The US Department of Justice has fined UK-based oil multinational BP a total of $373m (£182m), for breaking environmental and safety rules and committing fraud. The fines include $50m relating to the Texas refinery explosion in 2005 that killed 15 people and injured 180 more, with this penalty also including three years probation.
BP news release • EPA news release • The Pump Handle • 3 November 2007
USA: BP faces court over
Executives of UK-based oil giant BP have given evidence in a state court in Galveston, Texas, about the March 2005 blast in which 15 workers died and dozens were injured. However, former global BP boss Lord Browne will not be required to give evidence, after the company agreed to settle compensation cases with four injured workers
USW news release • International Herald Tribune • See excerpts of the trial online • 22 September 2007
Britain: Rewards for
failure debate dogs ex-BP boss
Disgraced former BP chief executive Lord Browne topped the executive pension league in 2006 with a retirement package worth more than £1m a year. He has also joined Riverstone Holdings, a US private equity firm that invests in energy businesses, as a managing partner based in London but operating globally.
The Guardian • Financial Times • 1 September 2007
BP boss survives safety scandals unscathed
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has said it will fine London-based multinational BP $92,000 (£44,700) for new safety breaches at its Texas City refinery. The company’s recently unseated global boss whose cost cutting programme was blamed for some of the company’s poor safety performance, meanwhile, has been given the plumb post of Tate Gallery trustee by Gordon Brown.
OSHA news release • BBC News Online on the BP fine and on Lord Browne’s new trustee role • 28 July 2007
BP explosion report ‘toned down’
BP’s internal investigator admitted in sworn testimony that his final draft report on the UK company’s management responsibility for the 2005 Texas refinery explosion was toned down. The admission came less than a week after another contract worker died at the Texas City plant.
Financial Times • Boston Herald • 16 June 2007
USA: Second implicated
BP boss goes
The head of BP's refining operations has quit to take up a job in Canada, ending a persistent clamour for his resignation since a fatal explosion ripped through the oil company's Texas City plant in 2005. John Manzoni’s resignation came just a month after the confidential BP ‘Bonse’ report was made public that accused him of failing to perform his duties in the run-up to the explosion and of engaging in a “simply not acceptable” standoff with a colleague.
The Guardian • 9 June 2007
Good riddance to Lord Browne
When BP chair Peter Sutherland said it was “a tragedy” that BP boss Lord Browne – implicated in the 15 deaths at the March 2005 Texas City explosion - “should be compelled by his sense of honour to resign in these painful circumstances,” it caused considerable comment in the US. Houston Chronicle business columnist Loren Steffy said: “A tragedy? No, that would have been more than two years ago in Texas City. Where was Browne’s sense of honour then?”
BP news releases on Houston Chronicle • Confined Space@TPH • AFL-CIO Now • 12 May 2007
Britain: BP faces further
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has ordered BP to improve safety on its North Sea oil and gas installations, issuing 14 notices to the energy group in the past year. So far the stipulations in 10 of the notices have been met. Offshore union Unite said it was not surprised, given BP's safety record, that it had received so many improvement notices.
The Guardian • 12 May 2007
BP investors turn on Browne over pay package
BP investors have approved a pay report which guarantees a multi-million pound payout to beleaguered chief executive Lord Browne – despite a substantial shareholders’ revolt over a string of safety and environmental blunders which had lead to deaths and an enormous financial and reputational cost to the company.
Risks 302 • 21 April 2007
BP under pressure to link board pay to safety
BP faces an April showdown with its shareholders over the failure of the oil giant to link the pay of its London-based global board to health and safety performance. The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF), an investment body whose members own 1.2 per cent of the group's shares, plans to vote against the company's remuneration report at BP’s annual meeting on 12 April.
Risks 300 • 31 March 2007
Probe traces BP Texas blast blame back to London
The final official report into the Texas City disaster, which killed 15 people and injured a further 180, has accused top BP bosses of ignoring warnings that a disaster was imminent. The US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board's (CSB) report concluded that cost cuts mandated by the company's London headquarters contributed to the tragedy and the BP board knew of the problems in Texas but did “too little and too late”.
Risks 299 • 24 March 2007
BP fought off Texas safety controls
UK multinational BP successfully lobbied against tighter environmental controls by regulators in Texas, saving $150m (£77m) in monitoring and equipment upgrades prior to the fatal Texas City refinery explosion in 2005, internal documents show.
Risks 297 • 10 March 2007
BP internal blast report called for sackings
BP's internal investigation into management accountability for the oil company's fatal Texas refinery explosion called for the sacking of four senior executives, according to a newspaper report. A 14 February Financial Times report says those marked for the axe included Mike Hoffman, who recently retired as the UK company's group vice-president for refining and marketing; Pat Gower, US refining vice-president; Don Parus, the Texas City refinery manager who has been on leave since the accident; and Willie Willis, a plant employee who had apparently being groomed to succeed Mr Parus.
Risks 295 • 24 February 2007
BP profits hit by safety failures and delays
BP has been forced to slash some production targets by up to 20 per cent and increase capital expenditure in a bid to tackle safety and output problems in the aftermath of accidents in the US. The oil giant made a profit of $3.9bn (£2bn) in the last three months of 2006, down from $4.4bn a year earlier, although overall profits for 2006 were up 15 per cent to $22.3bn.
Risks 293 • 10 February 2007
Injury lawyers say it’s time for boardroom jail terms
Top personal injury lawyers have said a realistic prospect of jail time for top bosses who neglect their safety responsibilities is necessary if the issue is to be taken seriously in Britain’s boardrooms. They were commenting after a series of reports implicated BP’s London-based global board in cost cutting and mis-management that contributed to the Texas City refinery blast that killed 15.
Risks 292 • 3 February 2007
“Iron clad” evidence cost-cutting hurt BP safety
BP is to receive another damning indictment over the Texas City refinery explosion when a new report links the disaster to cost-cutting by the British oil group. Carolyn Merritt, chair of the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB), an independent, government-backed agency, said a report to be released on 20 March will pin some of the responsibility on BP budget cuts.
Risks 291 • 27 January 2007
Call for BP chiefs to have bonuses linked to safety
Shareholders are calling for BP directors to have their bonuses linked closer with the company's safety and environmental performance, following incidents such as the March 2005 Texas City refinery fire, where 15 people were killed and 180 were injured. The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum has called on BP chair Peter Sutherland to address the issue of how senior executives' pay is related to non-financial issues, following the highly critical Baker Panel Report which found the blame went all the way to the UK-based global board.
Risks 290 • 20 January 2007
Finger points at Browne on BP safety
BP chief executive Lord Browne was aware of safety concerns at the company’s Texas City refinery for at least two years before a deadly explosion at the plant. An internal email suggested Lord Browne, the London-based global head of the company, knew of problems at Texas City as early as 2003 and that he was personally monitoring the site's monthly safety statistics.
Risks 287 • 16 December 2006
BP neglects victims, kills some more, spies on critics
The already tarnished image of London-based oil giant BP is taking further flak, after the deaths of more workers at its US installations, accusations that it has reneged on promises to the injury victims of last year’s Texas City blast, and allegations it spied on a bereaved daughter and her lawyer.
Risks 286 • Confined Space on recent BP deaths and the Texas City aftermath • 9 December 2006
Fatal errors put BP’s reputation ‘in the toilet’
BP’s carefully nurtured ethical reputation has been seriously damaged by a series of safety and environmental catastrophes. Athan Manuel, director of lands protection at the Sierra Club, a North American environmental network, said: “Their reputation is pretty much in the toilet.”
Risks 284 • 25 November 2006
BP ‘knew of Texas City worries’
An investigation into an explosion at BP's Texas City oil refinery has pointed the blame at the company's London-based global management for failing to heed warnings of catastrophic safety problems, aggravated by a “cheque-book mentality”. Chemical Safety Board chair, Carolyn Merritt, blamed the explosion on “ageing infrastructure, overzealous cost-cutting, inadequate design and risk blindness.”
Risks 281 • 4 November 2006
BP chief in US court escape bid
BP chief executive Lord Browne has been granted a reprieve from giving evidence in a US federal court over a March 2005 fatal explosion at the oil company’s Texas City refinery, after 52 claimants agreed to seek a settlement with BP. The chief executive had been due to give a six-hour deposition within the next three weeks after being ordered to testify by a US federal court, but could still be ordered to give evidence to a Texas court.
Risks 278 • 14 October 2006
BP kicks off global safety probe
Fundamental changes to the way BP works could be implemented as part of a worldwide safety initiative following a devastating refinery blast in the US, the energy giant has confirmed. The group, which is facing pressure from major investors, says it is carrying out a root-and-branch global safety review in the wake of last year's explosion in Texas City in which 15 people died and 170 were injured.
Risks 275 • 23 September 2006
Lord Browne ordered to testify in BP deaths case
Injured workers and families of those killed in an explosion at BP's Texas City refinery last year scored a court victory this week when a judge ordered the London-based company's top two executives to give depositions in the case. A Texas State Court ordered that Lord John Browne, the London-based head of BP’s global operations, must testify in litigation related to a fatal March 2005 accident at the Texas refinery.
Risks 272 • 2 September 2006
Deadly BP gets a visible reminder
A billboard just a block away from the main entrance to BP’s Texas City plant commemorates two workers, Raymundo C Gonzalez Jr and Leonard Maurice Moore Jr, who were gravely injured when a pipe ruptured at the plant on 2 September 2004, both succumbing to their injuries in the following weeks.
Risks 271 • USMWF report and website • 26 August 2006
More profits, more deaths at BP
As the media oozed praise for global oil giant BP this week on the announcement of record quarterly profits, another BP statistic went largely unmentioned. A US contract worker became the firm’s latest casualty, killed at the same BP Texas City plant where 15 died in an explosion last year.
Risks 267 • 29 July 2006
BP raises refinery blast payout
Oil giant BP has set aside an extra $500m (£270m) to cover claims from the victims of an explosion at one of its refineries in Texas last year. It has already allocated $700m (£380m) for the March 2005 blast, which killed 15 people and injured 180. More on BP’s safety record.
Risks 264 • 8 July 2006
Deaths trim bonus of UK’s best paid boss
Britain’s best paid boss has seen his annual bonus trimmed back to just £1.75m as a result of workplace fatalities at the firm reaching a six year high. The performance bonus of Lord John Browne, chief executive of London-based BP, has been cut as a result of a six year record 27 deaths at BP facilities worldwide.
Risks 249 • 25 March 2006
Criminal probe takes shape over BP blast
Civil and criminal investigations of BP appear to be heating up in the US, 10 months after the March 23 explosion at its Texas City refinery. FBI agents and criminal investigators from the Environmental Protection Agency have begun exploring whether criminal wrongdoing on the part of the company or its managers could have caused the blast.
Risks 242 • 4 February 2006
BP’s deadly crimes could go to trial
A BP report into the March fire that killed 15 at its Texas City refinery has acknowledged there were serious lapses in management’s safety approach. In a separate move, the government safety watchdog OSHA has said it is referring the case to the Department of Justice (DoJ), which will decide whether to bring a criminal prosecution against BP or BP bosses.
Risks 237 • 17 December 2005
Deadly BP buries more bad news
In the US the day before a national holiday is known by the media as “take out the trash day”, a good day to bury bad news. BP, mired in controversy over its recent safety record, chose last weekend’s Thanksgiving break, the biggest holiday in the US calendar, to release two highly critical reports.
Risks 235 • 3 December 2005
BP could have prevented deadly blast
The 23 March explosion at the BP Amoco Texas City Refinery that killed 15 workers and injured 170 could have been prevented if the refinery had taken basic safety measures and heeded past safety warnings, an official report has concluded. An independent panel into the blast convened by BP will be headed by former secretary of state James Baker, who ran election campaigns for three Republican presidents and whose law firm and institute have had recent financial links to BP.
Risks 231 • 5 November 2005
UK giant BP faces flak over £12m safety fine deal
UK headquartered multinational British Petroleum (BP) is facing union criticism abroad after receiving the USA’s largest ever workplace safety fine, over US$21m (£12m), in a secret deal with safety authorities.
Risks 226 • 1 October 2005
UK review as BP could face crime unit probe
As UK oil multinational BP faces rumours of a probe by a criminal investigations unit in the US after a highly critical report of its safety practices, Risks can reveal the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is keeping a close eye on developments.
Risks 221 • August 2005
BP disaster probe reaches London
The top government chemical safety body in the US has told BP’s London-based chief executive, Lord John Browne, there must be an “urgent” independent review of its refinery safety. The unprecedented call from the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) comes after a series of explosion’s at its US facilities, including the massive blast in March that killed 15.
Risks 220 • 20 August 2005
BP plant blows up again
Federal investigators have launched a probe into an explosion at BP's Texas City plant, the second such incident this year. The earlier March 2005 blast killed 15 and injured 170 and has been linked to staffing cuts and equipment failure.
Risks 218 • 6 August 2005
BP cost cutting linked to deadly explosion
BP’s massive programme of cutbacks on staffing and maintenance could have been at the root of the fatal Texas City refinery blast, according to a report in the Wall St Journal. It contradicts claims made by UK multinational BP in May that the disaster was the result of “surprising and deeply disturbing” mistakes by plant operatives and follows an official June report which found mechanical failures and improperly designed systems were to blame.
Risks 217 • 30 July 2005
Unsafe BP not hurt by deadly explosion
The Texas City BP Amoco explosion that killed 15 workers and injured 170 won't hurt the giant energy company's bottom line, says the company.
Risks 214 • July 2005
BP guilty of “corporate scapegoating”
UK multinational BP is facing a storm of criticism in the US after “scapegoating” workers for the Texas City refinery explosions that killed 15 workers and injured more than 170 in March, with a US union saying some of the blame can be traced back to the company’s London headquarters.
Risks 208 • 28 May 2005
BP fined over S1.4m for safety violations
UK multinational BP has been hit by fines of $1.42m (£763,000) for safety violations on its Prudhoe Bay oilfield in Alaska. In January 2002, BP has been fined a then record £1 million for safety breaches at its Grangemouth plant in the UK.
Risks 191 • 22 January 2005
Clean and green or industry whitewash?
Oil company BP has received more plaudits for its corporate responsibility - despite facing continuing criticism for its safety and environmental record over the last year.
Risks 148 • 20 March 2004
Report highlights BP management failings A series of management failures were responsible for life-threatening accidents at BP's Grangemouth complex, an official report has found. The report found standards had been allowed to slip, managers had not detected "deteriorating performance" and had failed to abide by the law. Hazards news, 22 August 2003
Worldwide Fund for Nature sells BP shares Worldwide Fund for Nature's UK arm (WWF-UK) is selling all of its BP shares in protest at the petrochemical giant's "slipping ethical standards". Hazards news, 5 February 2003
BP dropped by ethical Henderson Pirkko Juntunen BP has been suspended by Henderson Global Investor’s ethical funds because of environmental, health and safety issues in its Alaskan operations. The exclusion is a blow to the UK oil and gas group which has tried to improve its image and that of the industry. Henderson, part of Australia’s AMP group, said last week that its socially responsible investment (SRI) team had recently completed a review of BP’s safety and environmental performance in Alaska... Hazards news 13 January 2003
Another worker dies in BP
One man was killed and two others were injured while working on a high-pressure pipe at BP Exploration Alaska's North Slope, a BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. spokesperson said. Rodney Rost of Soldotna was killed when he was struck by a plug that blew out of the 28-inch pipe on which he was working.
Rigzone, 3 January 2003
Safety watchdog accused of stressing the BP positive UK health and safety watchdog HSE has helped publicise a safety award to BP Grangemouth, the company its own latest figures show was the recipient of the year’s top penalty for a workplace safety offence. Hazards news, 2 December 2002
USA: Underhand BP
In April 2002, North American Union UNITE criticised BP and other oil companies, all donors to the Bush presidential campaign, for killing a modest workplace chemical safety rule. Unions had wanted better controls on a group of reactive chemicals that between 1992 and 1997 had caused the deaths of 66 workers.
Risks 49 • 13 April 2002
Belgium: Under fire BP
In Belgium, workers who asked for safety improvements after an October 2001 fire at BP's Chembel chemical plant in Feluy were dismissed. The fired workers included an FGTB union representative on the plant's health and safety committee.
Risks 38 • 27 October 2001
A series of management failures were responsible for life-threatening accidents at BP's Grangemouth complex, an official report has found. The report found standards had been allowed to slip, managers had not detected "deteriorating performance" and had failed to abide by the law.
During the period between 29 May and 10 June 2000 three incidents occurred at the complex. BP was prosecuted for the failures and fined more than £1m in January 2002 (Risks 38).
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report is the result of a joint investigation with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa).
In a statement BP Grangemouth, said: "BP identified those areas where we had fallen short of our high expectations for our management of safety and environmental performance.” The statement added: "The lessons learned from the Grangemouth experience has been shared with other BP sites around the world."
However, Falkirk East MP, Michael Connarty, backed union claims that BP's plans to cut up to 1,000 jobs at the plant will jeopardise safety (Risks 107).
HSE was criticised by Hazards magazine last year for praising BP Grangemouth after it was given a European Agency safety award, two weeks after HSE’s own report said the company topped the national safety penalties list.
The charity has instructed fund managers to sell off its entire 51,000 shareholding. It is a significant blow to BP, which often cites its five-year relationship with WWF-UK as an example of its environmental responsibility.
"We've decided to get rid of our shares in BP in line with our constant review of our investments," said Anita Neville, head of advocacy at WWF-UK. "We've been seeing increasing evidence from BP that it no longer deserves the best of sector title."
WWF-UK is particularly dismayed by BP's stance on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, and wants the company to improve safety standards following a series of oil well blasts that have seriously injured several workers.
BP dropped by ethical Henderson Pirkko Juntunen [Financial News, 13 Jan 2003]
BP has been suspended by Henderson Global Investor’s ethical funds because of environmental, health and safety issues in its Alaskan operations. The exclusion is a blow to the UK oil and gas group which has tried to improve its image and that of the industry. Henderson, part of Australia’s AMP group, said last week that its socially responsible investment (SRI) team had recently completed a review of BP’s safety and environmental performance in Alaska. “It was prompted by a combination of regulatory incidents and whistle blowing by concerned employees, which was given added urgency by an explosion at one of its wells in August,” said a spokeswoman.
“While BP is clearly putting in place policies at the corporate level to raise its standards, its performance in Alaska prompted sufficient concern that we have suspended the company from our list of approved stocks for the retail SRI funds managed by Henderson. We continue to engage with the company, both about the specifics of Alaska and about more strategic issues of safety and labour relations.”
The tough stance against BP follows an accident last August when an explosion injured a worker. In December another accident killed a contract worker.
BP confirmed that it had received a letter from Henderson which said that the firm suspended its holdings in BP in its SRI funds.
A BP spokesman said: “We are disappointed and are seeking to meet with the Henderson SRI managers to better understand their concerns and questions. This is the only action of this kind we have seen from any SRI funds.”
An SRI consultant said Henderson had taken a bold step ahead of its competition. He said: “Fund managers in the UK tend to work with engagement rather than exclusion, but BP will have to work hard not to be excluded from European SRI portfolios, which sometimes are more strict.”
BP faces mounting criticism over its Alaskan operations. Recently a US judge forced BP to provide unrestricted access to state regulators to further comply with federal, state and local environmental and health and safety laws.
Safety watchdog accused of stressing the BP
2 December 2002
UK health and safety watchdog HSE has helped publicise a safety award to BP Grangemouth, the company its own latest figures show was the recipient of the year’s top penalty for a workplace safety offence.
The HSE news release says: “BP Grangemouth is one 20 companies from across Europe who received an award in recognition of outstanding and innovative contributions to the prevention of psychosocial risks, especially work-related stress.”
The release, which was given a second plug in a “ticker” on the homepage of the HSE website, adds: “The awards, which were made by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, aim to acknowledge and motivate good practice activities and stimulate the sharing of practical solutions to prevent work-related stress.”
However, the decision to “trumpet” the award to the company that topped the workplace safety fines list released by HSE two weeks ago (Risks 81), has attracted criticism.
A letter to Health and Safety Commission chair Bill Callaghan from campaigning magazine Hazards said: “Your support for BP doesn't sit too well alongside the policy of naming and shaming health and safety criminals, and makes your statements on corporate social responsibility seem a little, well, fainthearted. I'm sure the company is grateful for this opportunity to put a safe gloss on its dirty record.”
The HSE news release on safety penalties made no mention of BP Grangemouth’s record £1 million safety offence (Risks 38).
letter to HSC chair Bill Callaghan HSE news
release and information
on the award event and European Week 2002 European Agency news
Date: 2 December 2002
HSE trumpets award for Britain's top safety offender
Interesting that you should choose to press release this award to BP Grangemouth.
BP Grangemouth was recipient of the country's highest workplace safety penalty, according to the figures you released last month.
Your support for BP doesn't sit too well alongside the policy of naming and shaming health and safety criminals, and makes your statements on corporate social responsibility seem a little, well, fainthearted. I'm sure the company is grateful for this opportunity to put a safe gloss on its dirty record.
Perhaps you should ask the companies for whom you do this free PR to give a public apology via an HSE press release when they are done for grievious health and safety offences?
Stress initiative wins European award for British company. HSE 2 December 2002 news release. HSE nominated BP Grangemouth, the recipient this year of a record fine for safety offences, for the award (release in full below) On the HSE site
Average health and safety fines up by over a third - but penalties still need to be tougher, warns HSC Chair.
HSE 18 November 2002 press release. The press release does not mention BP Grangemouth received the top health and safety penalty last year.
BP fined £1m for safety breaches. TUC Risks 26 January 2002 report on the BP fine.
HSE 18 January 2002 statement on the BP £1m fine.
BP Grangemouth is one of twenty companies from across Europe who received an award in recognition of outstanding and innovative contributions to the prevention of psychosocial risks, especially work-related stress.
The awards, which were made by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, aim to acknowledge and motivate good practice activities and stimulate the sharing of practical solutions to prevent work-related stress.
BP Grangemouth submitted a low cost project using risk management to prevent potential stress arising from a plant commissioning project.
Accepting the award at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Project Manager David Wilson said: "Taking action to control stress delivers better technology programmes. The team at Grangemouth is confident to push hard knowing they will recognise stress and that everyone involved will welcome talking about ways to resolve it. I'm sure our experience can help a wide range of teams facing similar challenges."
Another British entry to receive recognition was Debenhams Retail plc which featured in the commended section for its work in preventing work-related violence in the retail sector.
Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, the Director of the Agency, said: "Work-related stress affects more than 40 million workers and is costing the EU an estimated 20 billion euro in absenteeism and related health costs every year - psychosocial risks hurt society and individuals. The good news is that psychosocial problems can be prevented, as the real business cases that will receive a European award clearly document. We hope that their example will inspire other private and public organisations, managers and workers to follow up with similar successful prevention efforts."
The award scheme forms part of European Week for
Safety and Health at Work, which takes place every October and involves
thousands of companies and organisations across Europe.
Promoted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the UK, this year's event saw a record breaking demand for action packs with more than 185,000 being despatched. The HSE is currently evaluating efforts made during the Week and will be announcing details of award winners early in 2003.
Notes to Editors:
1. For more information about the BP project, contact David Wilson, BP Grangemouth, tel: +44 (0) 1324 476863.
2. Further information on the award event and European Week 2002 can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/campaigns and http://osha.eu.int/ew2002/
Public Enquiries: Call HSE's InfoLine, tel: 08701 545500, or write to: HSE Information Services, Caerphilly Business Park, Caerphilly CF83 3GG.
Press Enquiries: Journalists only: Colette Manning 0151 951 3450, out of hours 020 7928 8382. HSE information and press releases can be accessed on the Internet : http://www.hse.gov.uk
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