October 11, 2010 | Mark Paradies

Monday Accident & Lessons Learned: Wall Street Journal Again Questions BP’s Internal Investigation of the Deepwater Horizon Accident – How Independent Can an Internal Investigation Be?

How much independence can an internal investigation have?

After an accident like the BP Deepwater Horizon, the company investigators know that their jobs and futures depend on the results of their investigation. After all, they saw their CEO testify in front of Congress that it was the other guy’s fault.

For example, if Mark Bly (now VP in charge of Safety at BP reporting to the CEO) produced a report critical of BP and it’s management, would he still be around?

The Wall Street Journal is focusing on the involvement of BP’s lawyers in the investigation and report writing. In their article, the question the independence of the report because of statements made by Mark Bly.

My belief is that all big company investigations of this size would have lawyers involved. It would be standard practice.

The bigger the accident, the harder it is to get people to take an unbiased look at what happened. It reminds me of the Casablanca scene …

I’m shocked, shocked to find that lawyers are involved in an internal accident investigation that is going to be released to the public.

Wait … I don’t find it shocking that lawyers are involved.

I don’t find it shocking that an internal report would blame everyone but BP’s management.

I don’t find it shocking that the corrective actions suggested don’t match up with the causes they found.

I guess I would be shocked if, for an investigation of an accident of this magnitude, an internal team (without legal review) could produce a completely unbiased report that was critical of their own safety and management practices.

That is why doing effective investigations of smaller incidents is SO IMPORTANT. Learn from the small stuff (that could case big stuff) and prevent the big stuff from happening.

Agree or disagree? Leave your comment here…

Root Cause Analysis
Show Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *