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Safety 30 Conference: Stepping away from lucky

Our Senior Brownfields Engineer Chris Laird, who attended the Safety 30 - Piper Alpha Legacy conference on behalf of Spirit Energy, gives his reflections on the event

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Jun 08, 2018

Miracle on the Hudson

Having spent two days at the Safety 30 Conference in Aberdeen, I have been struck by the common themes everyone across the oil and gas industry is facing in responding to the sector’s health and safety challenges.

What is clear, and reassuring, is that there is no complacency in how vital it is that we do take on those challenges – the name of the conference alone, and the events of 6 July, 1988 that it speaks to, are reminder enough of what could happen when we rely on luck rather than our procedures, processes and culture to keep us safe.

And equally reassuring were the opportunities and potential to address those challenges – a talk which really resonated with me gave the example of the Miracle on the Hudson and two pilots who had only just met who managed to work together and safely land a plane on the Hudson River thanks to the standardised training delivered to pilots around the world. Could our industry replicate the landing of a plane in the Hudson river?

Relying on luck

Equally impressive was my colleague Colin Deddis, who delivered an important talk on ensuring process safety training can have a lasting effect on our memories.

The “forgetting curve” he presented really got me thinking, knowing that after one day I would have forgotten 50% of what he talked about. In light of that, what training have I delivered to my colleagues, and should it have been rethought? Did it really sink in and should I engage the community further? Of course, and I intend on doing so.

The conference provided a lasting effect on me in terms of the efforts still required to ensure that a Piper Alpha incident is never repeated. Fortunately, given that there have been hydrocarbon releases which were in the range of volumes released during the initial incident on Piper Alpha, the industry has been lucky. It’s time to step away from feeling lucky.

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