Are Safety Cases past their sell by date - issue 261

Issue Number: 261


One of the responses to the Piper Alpha disaster on the 6 July 1988, which led to the death of 167 people, was the setting up of the Cullen Inquiry. The inquiry made 106 recommendations — the first of these was that, “The Operator should be required by regulation to submit to the regulatory body a Safety Case in respect of each of its installations”. Subsequently, the offshore safety case regime was introduced in the UK. Further developments have occurred with Safety Cases following the Deepwater Horizon drill rig explosion in 2010.
There is concern, however, that despite the good intentions of this focus on safety, the Safety Case has become too unwieldy to be a useful document for anyone other than a regulator or a safety professional.
Is an 800+ page document of value to either personnel offshore and onshore or the regulator? Does the production and maintenance of Safety Cases really improve offshore safety or does it offer little if any real reduction in offshore risks?

IChemE is a registered charity in England & Wales (214379), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 039661).