Principles of Process Safety Leadership

What are the Principles?

The explosion and fire at the Buncefield oil storage depot in 2005 led to the establishment of a Process Safety Leadership Group (PSLG).  They developed a set of 8 Principles for senior leaders to follow with the goal of reducing the risk of future similar events.

The UK offshore oil and gas industry endorsed a similar agreement and agreed a set of Process Safety Leadership Principles in November 2019.  The signatories to this were the Offshore Energies UK (formerly OGUK), Step Change, IADC and the Competent Authority (HSE).

There are 8 Principles for senior industry figures to follow. This requires putting Process Safety Leadership at the core of a business, engaging with the workforce, senior leadership team involvement and competence in safety management.

These 8 Principles are shown below (source:

The 8 Principles can be neatly captured in four key themes;

  • Leadership
  • Engagement
  • Performance Management
  • Shared Learning

To set a foundation for discussing this topic, there are two initial questions to reflect on;

What is Process Safety?

What is Process Safety Leadership?

When we start a discussion with these questions, we see how diverse individual and team perceptions can be in this critical topic.

What should I be doing about the Principles?

We have learned painful lessons from major accident events in the past, including Flixborough, Bhopal, Seveso, Piper Alpha, Deepwater Horizon, Texas City and Buncefield.

These tragic events consistently show that failures in leadership lie at the heart of the underlying management system failures.

The 8 Principles provide a foundation for industry leaders to drive continuous improvement.

At the OGUK HSE conference in 2021, the HSE placed a spotlight on these Principles.  The clear expectation from the HSE was that all operators should assess themselves against the 8 Principles and implement an improvement plan.

Moreover, the HSE announced their intention to include inspection of Process Safety Leadership as part of their regular inspections of offshore operators. This would include wide ranging engagement with senior leaders and the workforce.

Where can I get help with my Principles of Process Safety Leadership Assessment and Improvement plan?

The team at Scapa Energy has a wealth of experience in process safety as former regulatory inspectors, as leaders in operating companies, and as subject matter experts.  We have developed an effective and versatile approach to assessing your organization’s alignment with the process safety leadership principles.

The first phase of the assessment involves one-to-one engagement with individual senior leaders to establish both their knowledge and understanding of process safety and the actions and behaviours they take to support process safety in your organization.
The second phase involves engagement sessions with the workforce to gain their perspective and provide 360-degree feedback to leadership on process safety leadership effectiveness.

The findings from the assessment not only map directly to the Principles but can also be mapped to your organisation’s existing Process Safety Framework.

The assessment identifies clear opportunities for improvement that can be incorporated into your Process Safety improvement plans and programmes.


This post was written by Bryan Cousland, Principal Consultant, Scapa Energy.

Featured image courtesy Gexcon (


Turnarounds – are you ready for 2022?

Successful TAR Management is Critical

Turnarounds, shutdowns, outages – whatever the choice of terminology, the reality is that periodic turnarounds are a necessity throughout the life of any energy industry asset.


These are driven by the need to;

  • Protect short, medium and long-term production
  • Maintain license to operate obligations in a Major Accident Hazard context
  • Invest for future production growth


Turnarounds (TARs) can become a significant threat to achieving the business goals if not managed effectively. Issues with planning and execution can lead to;

  • Increased risk of safety and environmental related events
  • Significant drain on available resource
  • Failure to meet production and cost targets
  • Loss of confidence in partners, shareholders and the markets

This can ultimately create reputational issues.


Meeting TAR Best Practice

It is likely your organisation will already have made significant progress in 2022 TAR planning and preparation at the time of publishing this article. Ideally this will have been running since mid 2021.

Reaching this stage of maturity in January is a good indicator your organisation is following best practice.

Best practice also calls for a strict project management process, using a phased or gated approach. Detailed guidance on this approach is available from the OGUK document ‘Guidance for the Efficient Execution of Planned Maintenance Shutdowns (available from OGUK Planned Maintenance Shutdown Guidance).

Successful TAR’s can be achieved. Like any project management process, it requires;

  • Early and effective planning
  • Strict project management controls
  • A strong sense of teamwork
  • Effective risk management

Overarching these elements, TAR success is dependent on the organisational culture that supports the process. This is the glue that holds all the distinct elements together throughout the TAR journey.

Critical Elements of Successful TAR Delivery

Our experience shows us there are five critical elements that must have a very high focus;

  1. Asset Ownership
  2. Diligent management of approved workscopes
  3. Committed engagement with the Operational Teams
  4. Protecting the Plan
  5. Effective Assurance throughout the TAR process

Asset Ownership

The operator’s leadership team must own the TAR.  Operators may outsource many elements of TAR management to 3rd party contractors; however this can create a risk of relinquishing responsibility and control.

Working with contractors and the supply chain is essential, but it is the operator who must set the bar for performance.

An effective TAR Steering team should provide necessary support and set clear expectations for all stakeholders.


Workscope Management

The single biggest factor in failed TAR delivery is workscope change. Communicating and sticking to clear workscope controls will increase confidence in plan achievability.

The greater the scope, the greater the risk to be managed. Its about doing the right scope and preventing creep. Scope is activities challenged in as well as challenged out.


Operational Engagement

A key factor for TAR success is engaging the operations teams from the start. This should include dedicated operations resources.

Late engagement with the operations teams will limit the degree of TAR ownership.  They may not fully understand the TAR drivers or critical path and will impact the efficiency of detailed site preparations.


Protect the Plan and Budget

Understanding the critical path, then applying constructability and risk analysis is key to ensure plan optimisation. It is essential the plan takes account of;

  • Realistic estimates for the draining, flushing purging and venting (DFPV) phase
  • Provision for contingencies and growth risk
  • Realistic provision for commissioning leak testing and reinstatement activities
  • Clear cost control arrangements in place, including regular cost reporting


 On average 25% of TAR critical path is out with mechanical window.

The graphic below shows the interaction between these key TAR phases and shows the importance of focusing on all these elements.





Effective Assurance

The final key element is effective assurance. It is easy for TAR teams to get focused on the detail and lose sight of the big picture.

Conducting effective TAR risk management, milestone gate reviews, and independent peer reviews will;

  • Allow timely risk mitigation strategies
  • Provide early visibility of risk to the TAR management team
  • Provide confidence to the leadership team, Steering team and partners that the present TAR status and risks are clearly understood



Where Are You Now

Thinking of the best practices covered in this article, where do you think you are now for your 2022 TAR (assuming a summer execution window)? …spoiler alert below!


Scapa Energy Experience

The team at Scapa Energy have significant experience of TAR management. We understand the unique project management characteristics and challenges that TAR’s create.

We would be very pleased to discuss these experiences with you to help you achieve your 2022 TAR objectives. Typical areas where we help are;

  • Independent TAR peer reviews
  • TAR risk management facilitation
  • Pre-Start Safety Reviews (PSSR) and Readiness Reviews



Scapa Energy Strengthens its Core Team

Scapa Energy is delighted to welcome Bryan Cousland who has recently joined our core team. Bryan will significantly enhance our capability to meet continued growth of our independent assurance services.


Bryan joins the team in the role of Principal Consultant, and he brings with him a fantastic set of skills and experiences. His key strengths are HSE Management, Investigation Management, Leadership Coaching and Assurance. Bryan most recently worked with BP and has previously spent many years as a regulator and Principal Inspector with the Health and Safety Executive. He is passionate about the human and behavioural aspects of performance and how this influences safe operations.

Bryan holds a PhD and BSc(Hons) in Applied Microbiology. He also holds various Post Graduate Qualifications in Health and Safety Management, Environmental Management, Coaching and Psychology.

Bryan’s experiences will be a great addition to the existing core team strength. We look forward to working with him through our next phase of growth.

Closing the Loop

Learning and Feedback

You will be familiar with many organisational learning and improvement models, such as Plan-Do-Check-Act and the related ISO Management Frameworks.

In theory, these models all have their merit.

What do your own experiences tell you? Are you confident that your organisation learns from events, incidents, audit, assurance?

From our experiences we see the most significant challenge and opportunity is effectively connecting all the elements to close the loop.

The feedback loops essential for connecting the various parts of the organisational system often get stuck. Senge’s ‘The Fifth Discipline’ provides great insight to the importance of effective feedback and reflecting on actual performance.


Scapa Energy Assessment Model

At Scapa Energy, we use a practical framework to assess and help improve overall performance of Operators to manage Major Accident and High Hazard Hazard risk;

It starts with effective leadership. Setting expectations and setting a healthy context for teams to operate is essential.

Managing high hazardous operations requires aware, competent and experienced teams. A strong management framework and clear procedures that are followed in practice must be in place.

We need to contain hazardous fluids through effective hardware, maintenance and integrity management controls.

This all must be done with effective co-ordination, planning and communication.

Audit and assurance must be effective, incident investigation must assess systemic issues.

And finally, closing the loop requires tangible action with leadership commitment.

If these interconnected elements are in place and working effectively, there is a powerful reinforcing feedback loop.

Conversely, if any one of these elements or their connections are not working performance will be affected. This could be for example;

  • Ineffective learning from audits and incidents. This could be influenced by audit or investigation effectiveness, or by inadequate communication of learning, and ineffective management of actions.
  • Actions that are not clear, or not part of an overall improvement strategy
  • Not checking in at the right times to ensure improvement actions are making the right impact

Using the Model in our Practice

The Scapa model has proved effective for a range of activities, for example;

  • Assessing overall Operator capability to meet regulatory requirements, including ‘Regulation 5’ Audits
  • Independent audit and assurance activities of Operational Risk Management Controls, Integrity Management or Competence Management
  • Assessing the effectiveness of Performance Management
  • Independent investigations, or peer review of operator investigations
  • Developing operator and duty holder strategic improvement plans
  • Leadership coaching in an MAH context

It is our aim to create valuable insight that creates purposeful action using these approaches. In turn, these actions improve performance and reduce the risk of unplanned events.

The UK Regulator understand the importance of effective monitor, audit and review. They have recently published Inspection Guidance (available from Expect the HSE to include this topic in upcoming inspection activity.

OGUK have also published industry guidance to help operators get organised for effective internal assurance ( This provides a flexible toolkit to help operators design and implement internal assurance activities.

If you are interested in discussing how Scapa Energy can support you to manage risk and improve performance, just drop a note to any of the team.

You may also be interested in reading our recent post on our Remote Working Engagement Model (


Featured image: ‘Ascending and Descending’, M.C. Escher, 1960

Remote Resilience

Groundhog Day?

Well, it’s more or less a year since we all had to make major adjustments to our daily lives. Little did any of us believe we would still be working with our lives significantly restricted by the continued fight against Covid-19.

All this is a minor inconvenience when we think of the millions of people who have been infected, severely ill, or sadly passed because of this modern disaster.

In the context of our daily work, everyone I know has embraced these circumstances with humility, professionalism, and of course a little light-heartedness to keep us smiling. We are all now pretty much expert on Teams and the more adventurous among us have built a nice collection of background themes, including borrowing sets from Star Wars…


Source: Star Wars Backgrounds

Thankfully the industry’s control rooms are not quite like this. Thinking of the dedicated site-based teams and those supporting them, they have shown great resilience to maintain safe operations whilst minimising Covid-19 risks and delivering on business results. This has indeed been an arduous and unrelenting challenge.

Innovation by Necessity

We are also not in a Groundhog Day scenario. Individuals, teams and organisations have innovated and adapted remarkably well.

In my previous post, I talked of two key questions;

  • How long will the Covid-19 tail be i.e. how long will the impact on working patterns persist?
  • What structural changes will be introduced, or remain in place, for the foreseeable future?

I think the first question is answered. This will be a very long tail.

On the second question, I can only talk directly to Scapa Energy experiences. We quickly adapted our way of working, which has also created positive outcomes in surprising ways.

Before Covid, our business activities were driven by face-to-face engagement – at site locations, at our client’s offices, and in our own offices. When this came to a juddering halt, we very quickly developed and implemented a remote assurance process.

This remote approach required us to;

  • Be more stringent with planning and co-ordination with our clients
  • Prepare more rigorous Terms of Reference and pre-engagement question sets
  • Request the client to complete these question sets before engagement discussions
  • Embrace remote working technology
  • Apply Systems Thinking from a remote perspective


Scapa Energy Remote Engagement Process©


This provided structure to work remotely. We recognise this wasn’t a substitute for ‘boots on the ground’. But after successful delivery of this approach for close to a year, we have found;

  • Clients are better prepared by reviewing and responding to the question sets
  • Client engagements are more focussed  during the engagement and there are less distractions
  • More focussed analysis of information and documents through pre-read and screen-share
  • More thorough data analysis with provision of remote access to software applications
  • Using remote communications is not a barrier to active engagement
  • Our principles of partnering with clients to reduce risk and improve performance continue to be met

Collectively, these benefits bring an overall value-add that we had not anticipated.


We have seen these benefits in the range of remote independent assurance services we provide, for example;

  • Safety Case Regulation 5 Audits
  • Offshore focussed Control of Work Audits
  • Maintenance Effectiveness Review
  • Process Integrity Audits
  • Technical Professional Competence Assessments (West Africa)
  • Independent Incident Investigation

These services also provide a key option to meet regulator and industry expectations, reinforced with the recently published OGUK Assurance Toolkit (

Scapa Energy are grateful for the ongoing support from our existing and new clients to enable the delivery of these range of remote services. This has not been possible without the resilience and professionalism of the Scapa Energy team.

We have already committed to maintaining a mixed blend of delivery, getting the best of both worlds as we move into a state of new normal.


Featured image: ‘Bright Side’, courtesy Michael Luinig (