According to a most recent (June 2014) report by the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) that investigated the BP Deepwater Horizon (DWH) blowout, inadequate management systems and poor safety culture were major underlying causes of that blowout. This analysis has been corroborated by many other seminal reports on the DWH accident. In fact, lack of safety culture has been identified as a common contributing cause of many accidents in the oil and gas industry.

In response to the above serious fact, there are strong recommendations that the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) of the U.S. Department of the Interior, as the responsible regulatory agency for offshore operations in the Outer Continental Shelf, has to promote safety culture. In addition, the BSEE director, in his speech for the fourth anniversary of the DWH accident in April 2014, emphasized the importance of fostering a culture of safety among all involved in offshore operations so that it becomes part of the way business is conducted.

Safety culture can be defined through its five primary composing elements/pillars, characteristics or sub-cultures, which include an informed culture, a reporting culture, a learning culture, a just culture, and a flexible culture. Reporting culture, as one of the five pillars of safety culture, creates organizations in which people are prepared to report their errors and near-misses. In this regard, interoperation and interaction of multiple organizations play a critical role.

This paper, by focusing on the foregoing reporting pillar, introduces a risk assessment framework to analyze multi-organizational interactions with the focus on ineffective communication. This framework models the interactions of involved organizations and key players in four different layers: the level of meta-system interactions, bi-lateral organizational interactions level, bi-lateral work interactions level, and the level of work site operations interactions.

Our extensive literature review indicates that few studies have applied risk analysis to interactions among multiple organizations, with even more limited application to the oil and gas industry, particularly offshore operations. We further show the viability of our framework by using it to develop a risk assessment model based on the investigation of the DWH accident and to analyze the interactions of key players in that case.

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