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Research council recommends BSEE move away from compliance mentality

June 20, 2012

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Washington – The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement should use a “holistic combination” of methods to evaluate safety and environmental management system programs in offshore operations and focus on safety culture, according to a report from the National Research Council.

The report, released June 19, follows an October 2010 final rule requiring operators to implement SEMS programs for oil and gas and sulfur operations. The rule was part of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement’s shift from a narrow focus on mechanical failures to safety management in the wake of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion. NRC supports the move away from compliance, stating that inspectors should be trained to focus on improving safety rather than issuing citations.

BSEE, which performs inspections and audits, has favored third-party audits for SEMS programs. However, the report argues an independent internal audit may be more effective because it “reinforces ownership of the safety culture.”

Other recommendations include BSEE establishing a key performance indicator program to identify metrics to evaluate the audit program and starting a whistleblower program so workers can anonymously report safety concerns.

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