March 11, 2013 | Mark Paradies

Monday Accident and Lessons Learned: What a Strange Week – BP on Trial and CEO Touts Safety Improvement

I’ve been trying to keep up with the BP trial. Reading the transcripts of the testimony the day after it happens (although I can’t get time to read a day’s worth of testimony every day).

For me, the testimony of Mark Bly highlighted the restricted scope of BP’s accident investigation which made me think:

If they didn’t do a thorough investigation
that included looking for management system root causes within BP …
how do they know they are really on the right track when improving safety?

Yet last week, Hydrocarbon Processing published an article about a speech by Bob Dudley (CEO of BP). Here’s the quotes …

Two years ago, when I stood here in this very spot, I said I was determined that we would emerge from the Deepwater Horizon accident as a safer, stronger, more sustainable company,” Dudley said.

We have made good on those promises. We are honoring our commitments. We have set new standards. We continue working very systematically on safety and our record is improving.

Among the many responsible parties, we alone stepped up from the outset, acknowledging our role, waving the liability cap and committing ourselves to help restore the environment and economy of the Gulf Coast region,” he said.

We did not wait for a court to determine fault in order to do what we believed to be the right thing.”

What do you think? Did BP step up to the plate and take responsibility for the spill? Was that what Tony Hayward did in Congressional testimony? And is that what BP did in the lawsuits after the spill to try to void their contracts with Transocean and Halliburton that limited the two contractors’ liability (and were found in court to be valid contracts)?

I really don’t know about BP’s efforts since the Deepwater Horizon blowout and spill to change their culture. But I don’t think they ever admitted (at least not publicly) that there was anything wrong or anything to change in their cost cutting, production over safety culture. The post accident depositions and trial testimony this week by BP employees, including their VP of Safety, never admits that anything was BP’s fault except certain “immediate cause” errors that can’t be denied.

This certainly brings up the question …

“Do you have to admit you were wrong
and find the root causes of failure before you can improve?”

It also makes me wonder …

Does a company’s actions have to match their speech or
is this the age of the only thing that is important is
what you say and not what you do?

Root Cause Analysis
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