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Don't get complacent, warns energy safety expert

by Arabian Oil & Gas Staff on Aug 28, 2012

Research indicates that the Return On Investment (ROI) of implementing safety policies in an organisation can exceed 300%.
Research indicates that the Return On Investment (ROI) of implementing safety policies in an organisation can exceed 300%.

The president of the world’s oldest professional safety society has said that corporations in the energy sector are susceptible to complacency regarding the safety of their workers, and as a result compromise their corporate Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) policies.

Richard Pollock, CSP, President of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), said that in some cases, conflicting organisational interests have resulted in a culture of risk in the oil and gas industry.

The safety expert’s comments come as research indicates that the Return On Investment (ROI) of implementing safety policies in an organisation can exceed 300%.

According to the Liberty Mutual Research Institute, for every dollar invested in safety the ROI exceeds three dollars. In the April 2009 issue of the ASSE journal, Professional Safety, it was reported that for every dollar invested in safety, the ROI was US$4.41.

Pollock cited the 2010 Macondo disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11 workers and was the largest accidental oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, as evidence of the enormous remedial costs directly related to indifferent safety policies.

It was later determined that cost-cutting measures and lack of an effective safety system were key factors that led to the disaster.

“All too often safety is assumed to be under control, yet when under the focus of a post-incident legal or regulatory investigation, it becomes obvious that the very organisational factors that have presumably lead to profitability and growth have also created a culture of risk – including a willingness to disregard known and significant risk in the name of cost savings or expediency,” said Pollock.

“Everyone knows the devastation caused by a major incident. The clean-up costs and related fines are enormous, not to mention the cost of lost goodwill and consumer confidence that was evident in the wake of the Macondo disaster.”

Added Pollock: “There is no doubt that the risk of loss from a major incident is significantly reduced through the implementation of HSE best practices, together with a comprehensive safety management system that drives a culture that is focused on incident prevention.”

The ASSE approved a new UAE chapter in June 2012, adding to its Middle East chapter, which covers Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman and has more than 800 members in the region.

Pollock will be speaking at the 8th Annual HSE Forum in Energy, taking place from 8-10 October at the Doha Grand Hyatt Hotel, Qatar.

The two-day forum and exhibition event will host more than 45 regional and international HSE experts to discuss HSE best practice and operational excellence.


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