- Photo Courtesy of Chemical Safety Board

Photo Courtesy of Chemical Safety Board

A guidance document focusing on the importance of company executives in ensuring the correct safety management systems are in place has been released by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.

“CSB Best Practice Guidance for Corporate Boards of Directors and Executives in the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry for Major Accident Prevention” addresses the systems needed to properly manage risks, with the goal of preventing major accidents and protecting workers, the public, and the environment, CSB chairwoman Dr. Katherine Lemos said.

“April 20, 2020, marked 10 years since the catastrophic Macondo/Deepwater Horizon blowout, fire, and explosion,” Lemos said. “The CSB’s final report determined that a robust process safety program is important to a company’s overall success.”

Companies operating offshore have the potential for major accidents that threaten the lives of workers and may result in catastrophic environmental damage, as seen in the Macondo/Deepwater Horizon blowout and explosion, she said.

The guidance document includes the following for boards of directors and executives:

  • Ensure that a robust safety management system is in place that integrates internal safety requirements with regulatory requirements to control major accident hazards and that identifies, prevents, and mitigates identified process safety deficiencies.
  • Promote a strong process safety culture.
  • Ensure that at least one of the company’s directors has the necessary and relevant education, experience, and training to gather, assess, and communicate important process safety-related information.
  • Develop a process safety policy that is periodically reviewed and revised, as necessary, and is an integral part of the company’s culture, values, and performance standards.
  • Establish a board champion for process safety who initiates discussion at all board meetings and leads process safety oversight and other initiatives on behalf of the board.
  • Communicate process safety policies and their importance, as well as the crucial role of workers in risk identification and management.
  • Establish strong Board visibility, including site visits, presentations, and board-level training initiatives, including health and safety training courses, as well as the creation of company-specific programs with an emphasis on process safety.

Guidance for good communication practices is also provided to ensure that shareholders receive critical information to hold management and the Board accountable for a company’s safety performance, including:

  • Annual reports from boards of directors to investors and shareholders should provide sufficient information relating to the company’s process safety performance.
  • Annual reports should include detailed sections on topics, such as risk factors, process safety and operational risks, and environmental and social responsibility.
  • Boards should effectively communicate process safety performance in the form of leading and lagging safety indicator data that provide sufficient information concerning the safety of their operations, major hazards and related safety issues, and areas for improvement.

The document further highlights best practices by the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS), safety culture policies issued by the Bureau of Safety and Environment Enforcement (BSEE), as well as effective leadership for health and safety issued by international regulators and trade associations.