The Cullen Report into the Piper Alpha disaster recommended a new approach to regulating health and safety on the UK Continental Shelf based on a goal-setting philosophy.

The UK health and safety authorities have been developing new legislation to implement Lord Cullen's recommendations.

This paper sets out how a goal-setting approach towards health and safety legislation has been developed in the UK. It describes the key elements of the goal-setting philosophy; outlines the new goal-setting regulations which have been put in place or which are in the course of development; and describes other actions being taken to promote a stronger safety culture offshore.


On 6 July 1988 an explosion and fire occurred on the Piper Alpha platform on the United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS). 167 men lost their lives in that disaster. The death toll was the highest of any accident in offshore operations. The UK Government set up a public inquiry into the disaster, headed by Lord Cullen Lord Cullen's Report was published in November 1990. He made 106 recommendations for immediate improvements to safety practices on the UKCS; a major safety research programme; and, not least, fundamental changes to the regulatory regime.

These changes involve:

  • a change in responsibility for regulating offshore safety. This responsibility, previously vested in the UK Department of Energy, was moved to the UK national health and safety authorities - the Health and Safety Commission and Executive (HSC/E) in April 1991;

  • the development of new offshore safety regulations; and

  • a new approach to regulation, based on a goal-setting philosophy.


The Health and Safety Commission and Executive were established in 1974. Since then the Commission and Executive have pursued a programme for reforming UK health and safety legislation, based on a goal-setting philosophy.

P. 143^

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.