Piper Alpha survivor to deliver Trevor Kletz lecture at Hazards 30

Piper Alpha survivor to deliver Trevor Kletz lecture at Hazards 30

26th February 2020

Piper Alpha survivor Steve Rae will share the story of how his survival has led to a lifelong drive to improve safety culture in the oil and gas industry in a lecture at the Institution of Chemical Engineers’ (IChemE) Hazards 30 conference in Manchester in May*.

Rae, Executive Director at Step Change in Safety, was one of the survivors of the Piper Alpha oil platform explosion in the North Sea that killed 167 people on 6 July 1988.

His career in the industry began in the early 1980s working as an Offshore Technician on many North Sea installations, including Piper Alpha. Having survived the tragic incident, Rae chose to continue working in the industry where he went on to become an accomplished executive.

Over 35 years of industry experience has provided Rae with a unique perspective on safety culture, effective team leadership and engagement across all levels of workforce.

Rae was a member of the UK Step Change in Safety Leadership Team from 2007–2011 and chaired Statoil’s Aiming High Group in Brazil from 2014­–2015. He also held a number of high profile positions, including Operations Manager at Noble Drilling, Vice President International Drilling Operations at Seawell and Vice President QHSE at Archer the well company.

At the conference, Rae will deliver the Trevor Kletz lecture - created to honour the memory of the pioneer of process safety. In his lecture, Piper Alpha - an Accident or Predictable Surprise, Rae will share his survival story and explain why he dubs the incident a ‘predictable surprise’.

Rae said:

“Through my career I have come to realise that our ability to deliver safe operations is intrinsically linked to the values, beliefs, behaviours and work practices that we, our work colleagues, supervisors and managers choose to adopt. As such it’s by personal choice that we either chose to intervene or chose to look the other way. I encourage everyone working in process safety to make your choices like the lives of your loved ones depend on them; and never feel that you can’t make a difference.”

Hazards 30 - IChemE’s annual process safety conference - takes place on 18-20 May 2020 at Manchester Central, in Manchester, UK. It will bring together anyone involved in process safety and risk management to share good practices, and explore lessons learnt from past incidents and near-misses.

This year marks 60 years since Hazards was first held in Manchester in 1960. Hazards 30 will reflect on the key milestones on the process safety journey so far, the achievements and the challenges that lie ahead.   

The programme will also feature a panel discussion by leading industry experts, focussed on the process safety lessons learned over the last 60 years. Audience members will have the opportunity to ask the panellists their questions.

Trish Kerin, Director, IChemE Safety Centre, said:

“Steve Rae’s personal determination to improve our process safety practices across industries around the world in order to help stop incidents like Piper Alpha from ever happening again is what makes him an everyday hero. I’m looking forward to learning from his unique insights in the Trevor Kletz lecture.

Hazards 30 is one of many activities we do at IChemE that is part of our commitment to keep the industry and society safe by promoting good practice in process safety and helping businesses to ensure their operations are as safe as possible.”

Joining Rae and Kerin are top industry leaders, including Maureen Wood from the Major Accident Hazards Bureau (MAHB), a special unit in Italy dedicated to assisting the European Commission in its efforts to prevent potential major industrial accidents.

Jo Nettleton, Deputy Director, Radioactive Substances and Installations Regulation at the Environment Agency, UK and Margaret Donnan, Chair Advisory Board, IChemE Safety Centre, Australia, will also give keynote speeches.

Sponsor and exhibition spaces are available to interested parties. Registration is open now and the full programme can be viewed at www.icheme.org/hazards30.

*NB: Following recommendations from UK Government about COVID-19 (coronavirus), Hazards 30 has now been rescheduled to take place as a virtual event from 26-27 November.


For more information please contact:

Rachael Fraser, Communications Executive, IChemE
t: +44 (0) 1788 534435
e: rfraser@icheme.org

Ketna Mistry, Communications Executive, IChemE
t: +44 (0) 1788 534484
e: kmistry@icheme.org

What is chemical engineering?

Chemical, biochemical and process engineering is the application of science, maths and economics in the process of turning raw materials into everyday, and more specialist, products. Professional chemical engineers design, construct and manage process operations all over the world. Oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, food and drink, synthetic fibres and clean drinking water are just some of the products where chemical engineering plays a central role.


The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) advances chemical engineering's contribution worldwide for the benefit of society. We support the development of chemical engineering professionals and provide connections to a powerful network of around 35,000 members in 100 countries.

We support our members in applying their expertise and experience to make an influential contribution to solving major global challenges, and are the only organisation to award Chartered Chemical Engineer status and Professional Process Safety Engineer registration.

More information: www.icheme.org