Black Swan events, holistic business continuity, Emerging Risk Audits, and non-financial risk management are terms swirling in C-Suites, on Boards, and in the business, risk management and auditing literature. Also swirling around are discussions about sustainability, corporate social responsibility, organizational resilience, as well as organizational health.
In a presentation yesterday, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released preliminary findings from its investigation of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, well blowout on April 20, 2010. Several investigation reports have been issued, including ones from BP and The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE)/U.S. Coast Guard Joint Investigation Team. I have discussed some of the findings in previous posts and will address some of these issues in future posts.
In the presentation, the CSB said “BP focused too much on the little details of personal worker safety instead of the big systemic hazards that led to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill and wasn’t as strict on overall safety when drilling rigs involved other companies that they hired.” Safety board managing director Daniel Horowitz told the AP that “BP applied lesser process safety standards” to rigs contracted out than it does to its own facilities. “In reality, both [drilling contractor] Transocean and BP dropped the ball on major accident hazards in this case.” The CSB went on to state that BP “did not conduct an effective comprehensive hazard evaluation of the major accident risks for the activities of the Deepwater Horizon rig or for the Macondo well” because the oil company’s large risk evaluation program “looked only at BP assets, not drilling rigs that it contracted” to other firms for operation. Read More
A recent survey of leading European companies, conducted by the Ashridge Business School and University of St. Gallen and reported in the MIT Sloan Management Review (Spring 2012), suggests that links between corporate functions and the CEO could be stronger.
Some of the reported consequences of these weak links include: mixed performance, more bureaucracy, a sense of C-Suite interference, lack of cooperation from operating managers, and a focus on transactional issues as opposed to value-added ones.
The value of building a “culture of assurance” was one of the key reflections shared by BP’s Vice President of HSSE Steve Flynn at the IOSH conference in Manchester, England, March 6–7, 2012.
Flynn examined the role of systems, engineering, and people in contributing to the incident, discussed key points relating to the “change journey” at BP, and shared some reflections/lessons learned that EHS professionals could take away from the event’s investigations.
Challenged to achieve regulatory compliance, EHS professionals are always looking for beyond-compliance ways to reduce risk. As organizational models have evolved to push accountability away from corporate functions toward business units and process-specific operations, the role of EHS professionals has also morphed.
The trend has been for EHS professionals to act in the role of consultant or coach within the organization, as opposed to an enforcer to be avoided. While this trend makes sense, a significant component of EHS accountability still resides within the EHS department and its professionals.
Over the past several years, I have been working on an EHS organizational management model and methodology that provides organizations with a way to bring innovation and fresh thinking to its Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) function. Some of these ideas have been presented in email newsletters and white papers, including ways to integrate the EHS function within itself as well as within the organization.
Central to this work have been ways to elevate EHS thinking as a driver in business strategy for competitive advantage, take EHS performance to zero or near zero, and empower EHS professionals as leaders in their organizations. I was excited when I first learned of and read Green to Gold, as it reinforced and validated much of this work. Read More