Thursday, September 30, 2010

BP's New Safety Division

It looks like oil company BP believes that creating a new, “global” safety division is part of the answer to their ongoing safety performance issues including most recently the explosion of Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.  An article in the September 29, 2010 New York Times* quotes BP’s new CEO as stating “safety and risk management [are] our most urgent priority” but does not provide many details of how the initiative will accomplish its goal.  Without seeming to jump to conclusions, it is hard for us to see how a separate safety organization is the answer although BP asserts it will be “powerful”. 

Of more interest was a lesser headline in the article with the following quote from BP’s new CEO:

“Mr. Dudley said he also plans a review of how BP creates incentives for business performance, to find out how it can encourage staff to improve safety and risk management.”

We see this as one of the factors that is a lot closer to the mark for changing behaviors and priorities.  It parallels recent findings by FPL in its nuclear program (see our July 29, 2010 post) and warning flags that we had raised in our July 6 and July 9, 2010 posts regarding trends in U.S. nuclear industry compensation.  Let’s see which speaks the loudest to the organization: CEO pronouncements about safety priority or the large financial incentives that executives can realize by achieving performance goals.  If they are not aligned, the new “division of safety” will simply mean business as usual.

*  The original article is available via the iCyte below.  An updated version is available on the NY Times website.

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