Peer Reviewed Publication: Hopkins A, ‘Risk-management and rule-compliance: Decision-making in hazardous industries’ (2011) 49 Safety Science 110-120.
Many companies understand that good management requires senior managers to spend time with front line workers. Some companies build into performance agreements for senior managers a requirement that they conduct a certain number of such site visits each year. The challenge is to make productive use of these visits. Safety is often a focus for visiting VIPs, but too often safety is understood to be a matter of “slips, trips and falls”, rather than the major hazards that can blow the plant or the rig apart. This paper will examine a VIP visit made to the Deepwater Horizon rig by senior managers from BP and from the rig owner, Transocean, just hours before the explosion. It will argue that, despite their best of intentions, these managers fell into the trap identified above. The paper also looks at things that senior managers can do to focus attention on the most significant hazards.
Hopkins, Andrew, 2011, WP 79 - Management walk-arounds: Lessons from the Gulf of Mexico oil well blowout, National Research Centre for OHS Regulation, Canberra