More than 200 members of the major hazards industry came together for the first time in April to share their learning on better process safety in the industry.
The Health and Safety Executive-led event was organised for industry leaders to share good practice and learning from recent incidents, including the Buncefield fuel depot fire.
Key themes that emerged included the fact that process safety could not be managed from the boardroom and senior managers needed to “walk the talk” and listen to the front-line staff.
They also surmised that it was dangerous for organisations to assume everyone understood what process safety was and why it was so important in managing the major hazards business – so communication was key.
There was a strong appetite for creating a “CEOs forum” to share good practice and knowledge transfer in the spirit of business competition, the delegates heard. And key performance indicators were a vital tool in helping industry manage its process safety.
Common challenges included ageing facilities, some operating well beyond their life expectancy, skills shortages in key trades and professions, cost and production pressures, balancing varied and often conflicting priorities and massive change of ownership.
The other significant challenge was in creating a long-term sustainable safety culture in the industry, the conference heard, with leadership credibility taking a long time to build, but seconds to lose.