Peter Davidson: Good Leadership in Process Safety

Peter Davidson: Good Leadership in Process Safety

Peter Davidson, Executive Director at Tank Storage Association, will be speaking on the topic of safety leadership in tank storage at StocExpo Europe 2019, one of the world’s leading international events for the tank terminal industry. The event will be celebrating 15 years of success when it returns to the Ahoy in Rotterdam on 26-28 March 2019. Here he provides a taster of his talk:

It is important that businesses understand and manage risks, whether these are operational, financial, safety, environmental, ethical, or reputational. If these risks are not managed, they have the potential to harm people, damage the environment and destroy facilities, along with corporate reputation. Good major hazard leadership helps an organisation to ensure these risks are given the resources, priority and attention that they need to reduce the likelihood of a major accident.

Failures in good leadership have been evident in several painful learnings from major accidents in the oil and chemical sectors over many years, but what is good leadership, and what does it look like?  

Why manage your risks?

Senior leaders (for example Chief Executives and Directors) are accountable for the actions of their organisations. Good leadership and safety management can lead to improved efficiency and cost savings.

The consequences of not managing your risks could be catastrophic for people, the environment and your business. Good leadership is critical to sustained management of risks – do you really know your strengths and weaknesses?

Senior leaders need to:

  • understand what can go wrong that could cause a major accident
  • know what systems are in place to stop this happening, and
  • get the right information to provide assurance that those systems are working effectively

What should senior leaders do?

Senior leaders should show a clear commitment to the management of major hazard risks. This should include:

  • understanding leadership and performance for which they are ultimately responsible.
  • at least one board member being conversant in the management of major hazard risks.
  • understanding the implications of business decisions on major hazard management – in the short term and the long term.
  • promoting a positive culture in the business by being visible and passionate about managing major hazard risks.
  • involving the workforce to ensure that staff understand their own role in managing major hazard risks.
  • ensuring there are meaningful indicators of how well major hazard risks are being managed.
  • seeking to learn from all relevant incidents both from within the business and externally.

Leadership in process safety is an essential tool in reducing the risk of accidents and it continues to be a focus for governments and regulators. In 2012, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published Corporate Governance for Process Safety: OECD Guidance for Senior Leaders in High Hazard Industry. It established “best practice” for senior decision makers who have the authority to influence the direction and culture of their organisation. In 2019, the UK launched a renewed initiative, The Year of Leadership. The UK Tank Storage Association (TSA) leads on process safety leadership for the UK Competent Authority and is working with regulators to develop inspection guidelines and promote leadership throughout the major hazards sector. 

Peter Davidson is one of over 30 world-leading industry experts speaking at StocExpo Europe 2019. The show also features a packed exhibition hall, with over 200 suppliers from across the globe showing their latest innovations under one roof.  

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6th February 2019