Monday, April 22, 2019
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2010! A bad year for the oil industry as failure to take preventive action leads to catastrophic chains of events. Does prevention of business risk get the time it deserves in your company?

A few weeks ago I wrote with great optimism that BP were undertaking corrective action to stem the flow of oil at Deepwater, since then it has lurched from crisis to crisis, a public relations nightmare that could still bring the business to its knees. Along with the clean up expenses, there will also be a major investigation into whether this catastrophe of epic proportions could have been prevented.

On Monday 21st June 2010 the news broke that a witness has claimed that a critical piece of safety equipment at Deepwater, the blowout preventer, had failed and been shut down prior to the accident. For more detail see

At the same time, it has been reported that at the conclusion of the prosecution for "failing to take all measures necessary to prevent major accidents" leading to the explosion at the Total and Chevron controlled oil depot in Buncefield, Hertfordshire in December 2005; 3 companies have been held responsible for the explosion after a series of sensors failed to warn that tank 912, which contained unleaded petrol, was overfull causing a dangerous build up of explosive fumes to collect at the top of tank leading to the explosion.

It is apparent that these incidents both occurred due to a break down in the management systems being operated on site; where the businesses appear to have failed to take preventive action when it was required.

Preventive action is a key requirement of the management standards ISO 9001 (Quality), ISO 14001 (Environment) and BS OHSAS 18001 (Health & Safety), the aim of this requirement is to encourage businesses to be proactive in managing risks to the business whether identifying where customer services break down or ensuring that preventive maintenance is carried out.