In the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of companies safety management is seen to be a primary business objective having equal priority with production, in the decision making process. This position is however the result of a changing cultural approach over the last decade or so which has received an increase in prominence following major incidents in the exploration and production (E&P) industry. It is company policy that management ensures that work does not start before essential safety systems are in place and that operations must be suspended when safety cannot be ensured.

Well structured systems and controls for decision making of financial and production aspects of the business have been in existence for many years. Industry has however, only had crude tools for measurement of safety performance and its tools for hazard assessment, though detailed, have often lacked a coherent framework to relate them to each other and to an overall management control of safety both in design and operation.

In safety techniques, the focus of attention has increasingly been placed on the human causes of accidents, as incident analyses continue to reveal the predominance of organisational deficiencies over equipment defects.

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