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: https://oeuk.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Principles-of-Process-Safety-Leadership-OGUK.pdf).

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 (www.gexcon.com)