July 6th 1988 saw the worst disaster in the history of offshore operations. The total destruction of the Piper Alpha Platform claimed the lives of 165 of the 226 persons on board, and two of the crew of a fast rescue craft. The Public Inquiry into the Piper Alpha disaster led to the publication of the so called "Cullen Report' in November 1990 containing Lord Cullen's 106 recommendations for improving or achieving optimum safety.
The report was welcomed and the recommendations were quickly accepted by the UK government. Many people envisaged the report as having a radical effect on the design and construction of offshore installations, and while this is true to a point, detailed examination of Lord Cullen's recommendations show that the greatest part of these related to Safety Management. Over half his recommendations refer to management and training issues, approximately a further 25% deal with safety engineering assessment and analysis and only about 25% relate purely to hardware issues.
Lord Cullen's first and overriding recommendation was that operators should be required by regulation to submit a Safety Case, similar to the CIMAH Safety Report, for each of its installations. He was firmly directing operators towards assessing and demonstrating a safe operation via the production of a Safety Case as is now required by the Offshore Installations (Safety Case) Regulations 1 992 and if the operator can make that demonstration then he will have met the intention of the vast majority, if not all of, Lord Cullen's recommendations.