In the early hours of Sunday December 11, 2005, a number of explosions occurred at Buncefield Oil Storage Depot, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. At least one of the initial explosions was of massive proportions and there was a large fire, which engulfed a high proportion of the site. Over 40 people were injured; fortunately there were no fatalities. Significant damage occurred to both commercial and residential properties in the vicinity and a large area around the site was evacuated on emergency service advice. The fire burned for several days, destroying most of the site and emitting large clouds of black smoke into the atmosphere. Five companies were fined as a result. This included the tank gauging supplier.
During a press conference by the HSE, Gordon MacDonald presented three questions for companies to ask themselves. A fourth was added based on a presentation by CCPS to the Texas A&M Instrumentation and Automation Symposium.
- Do we understand what could go wrong?
- Do we know what systems are to prevent this from happening?
- Do we have the information to assure us that these systems are working effectively?
- What is your role?
These are great questions for any organization to ask itself. According to the ACC, incident rates are steadily declining, however, the severity of the incidents that do occur are increasing. This can be a problem, as the lack of incidents can cause an inappropriate sense of security. Asking these questions on an ongoing basis will help avoid processes and systems from being neglected.
"What is your role?" is a great question especially in the world of 'everyone's job is safety'. The question makes it personal. What role in the organization do you personally have with regards to process safety? What roles are not being filled in your organization? Does your facility have a 'set it and forget it' mentality?
This session discusses how organizations answer these questions.