Friday 24 September 2010

Culture of blame on Transocean rigs

A culture of fear and blame is rife across the operations of offshore drilling contractor Transocean, according to a leaked HSE inspection report.

The company, which BP blamed in part for the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in April, was the subject of an HSE investigation across four of its North-Sea rigs last year. The resulting report, which was leaked to the RMT union, highlighted many strengths within Transocean – such as an emphasis on training, support and implementation of key safety initiatives, and good communication of safety-related incidents to personnel – but found that health and safety was in danger of being compromised by an organisational culture of “discipline, blame and zero tolerance”.

The report, which the company has had for several months, states that “unacceptable behaviours by offshore management were raised on more than one rig visited”, including “bullying, aggression, harassment, humiliation and intimidation”. Such behaviours, the report reveals, “are causing some individuals to exhibit symptoms of work-related stress, with potential safety implications”.

Evidence cited by the HSE of the negative impact the company’s culture has had on its workforce include concern among personnel that they will be punished should they be involved in an accident. Staff are also “trying to avoid risky jobs, in case they make a mistake, or have an incident and will then be fired”, and that the expected management response to an incident is “affecting reporting rates, such that some events go unreported”.

While the report underlines the inspection team’s conviction that “senior management are committed to the health and safety of their workforce”, the company’s health and safety policy statement “places emphasis on individual involvement, personal responsibility and accountability”, instead of recognising that incidents tend to result from failings in management control.

Following the leak, an HSE spokesperson said it did not want to comment in detail as it is not a public report, but confirmed: “This particular non-technical report was sent to Transocean in February. No enforcement notices were issued as a result.”

Source: SHP 20 Sept 2010

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