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CSB: Focus on 'personal injury metrics' contributed to Deepwater Horizon explosion

July 25, 2012

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Washington – Overemphasis on personal injury data as a measure of safety obscured underlying deficiencies that contributed to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, according to preliminary findings from the Chemical Safety Board. The findings were presented July 24 at a two-day CSB public hearing on safety indicators for the offshore drilling industry.

CSB faulted BP and rig operator Transocean, as well as trade associations and regulators, for focusing on personal injury metrics instead of broad safety issues. An effective process safety indicator system might have revealed problems before the explosion, CSB concluded.

Additionally, agency investigator Cheryl MacKenzie said an “eerie resemblance” exists between the Deepwater explosion and the 2005 explosion at BP’s Texas City refinery, in which process safety also was a factor.

CSB is urging development of better safety performance indicators, and said industry and trade groups have made some progress in that area.

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