Interior urges ‘safety culture’ among offshore drillers

“The BSEE has reviewed the NRC’s safety culture policy and believes it provides a strong foundation for a similar approach for oil and gas operations on the [outer continental shelf], with the ultimate goal of facilitating the continued development of a robust safety culture for all persons working on the OCS,” the policy states.

The Bureau is slated to publish the draft policy for comment in Thursday’s Federal Register. It spells out nine characteristics of a “robust” safety culture.

“Experience has shown that certain personal and organizational characteristics are present in a positive safety culture. A characteristic, in this case, is a pattern of thinking, feeling, and behaving that emphasizes safety, particularly in goal conflict situations (e.g., production, schedule, and the cost of the effort versus safety),” it states.

The characteristics include quickly identifying and correcting problems; workers free to raise safety concerns without fear of retaliation; continuous learning; personal accountability; an “inquiring” attitude to continuously review conditions and avoid “complacency;" and several others.

The new statement arrives as the Bureau is working to finalize a second phase of its safety and environmental management systems regulation, and amid scrutiny of BSEE’s implementation of the existing requirements.

The Louisiana station WWLTV and The Houston Chronicle, in recent stories here and here, reported that regulators have not launched any audits of safety management systems required for offshore operators.

BSEE Director James Watson defended his agency's oversight in an interview with the Chronicle here.

Also, Interior’s offshore regulators have not yet unveiled long-planned rules that will set new standards for sub-sea blowout preventers.