It's the Culture, Stupid

And cash alone can't create one of world-class caliber.

AT the moment I'm asking how any company, even an energy conglomerate with operations on six continents, can afford to spend $7 billion in a four-year period to upgrade the safety of five U.S. refineries (and to rebuild aging pipelines in Alaska). The company is British Petroleum, which for reasons inexplicable is not fixed in the public's mind as a safety villain, despite several catastrophes at U.S. operations and a record $21.3 million OSHA fine last year. Seven billion dollars can buy terabytes of expertise, boatloads of training, and tons of audits, and while I applaud BP for committing it, I'd like it more if we weren't paying sky-high energy prices to support the company's bid to whip itself into shape.

A few people in our industry may benefit. A $7 billion safety budget is almost unfathomable: To exhaust it, BP would have to pay $233,333 to each member of the American Society of Safety Engineers, which says it has 30,000 occupational safety health and environmental members. That won't happen, but in late July BP said it had earmarked $200 million to pay for 300 outside experts "who will conduct comprehensive audits and redesigns where necessary of all safety process systems."

That's commendable. However, cash can't buy a world-class safety culture. Money alone won't make a supervisor who reveres production above all else change his outlook, nor will it sober up a hard-drinking or drug-using worker whose habits endanger those around him.

The new U.S. systems will be operational by the end of 2007, the company said. It promised to seek OSHA's input throughout the process and to ensure its U.S. operations meet the agency's standards. If the culture is weak on safety, these promises won't be enough.

This column appeared in the October 2006 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

This article originally appeared in the October 2006 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Track Key Safety Performance Indicators

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations to easily track safety KPIs and metrics. Gain increased visibility into your business’ operations and safety data.

  • Analyze Incident Data

    Collect relevant incident data, analyze trends, and generate accurate regulatory reports, including OSHA 300, 300A, and 301 logs, through IndustrySafe’s extensive incident reporting and investigation module.

  • Safety Training 101

    When it comes to safety training, no matter the industry, there are always questions regarding requirements and certifications. We’ve put together a guide on key safety training topics, requirements for certifications, and answers to common training questions.

  • Conduct EHS Inspections and Audits

    Record and manage your organization’s inspection data with IndustrySafe’s Inspections module. IndustrySafe’s pre-built forms and checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - March 2019

    March 2019


      Not Your Grandpa's Ear Muffs 
      Far Too Many Fatal Falls
      Marijuana in the Workplace
      Ladder Safety Tips
    View This Issue