U.S. Chemical Safety Board Releases New Guidance Document for Boards of Directors and Executives Focused on High Hazard Accident Prevention in the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry

Photo: Kris Krug

Washington, D.C. – May 14, 2020

The CSB has released a new guidance document entitled, “CSB Best Practice Guidance for Corporate Boards of Directors and Executives in the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry for Major Accident Prevention.” The new seven-page document is focused on the importance of the role of boards of directors and executives in ensuring that there are effective safety management systems in place to properly manage risks, with the goal of preventing major accidents and protecting workers, the public, and the environment.

Chairman Dr. Katherine Lemos said, “April 20, 2020, marked 10 years since the catastrophic Macondo/Deepwater Horizon blowout, fire, and explosion. The CSB’s final report determined that a robust process safety program is important to a company’s overall success. Companies operating offshore have the potential for major accidents that threaten the lives of workers and may result in catastrophic environmental damage, as seen in the Macondo/Deepwater Horizon blowout and explosion.”

The guidance document includes the following for boards of directors and executives:

  • Ensure that a robust safety management system is in place that integrates internal safety requirements with regulatory requirements to control major accident hazards and that identifies, prevents, and mitigates identified process safety deficiencies.
  • Promote a strong process safety culture.
  • Ensure that at least one of the company’s directors has the necessary and relevant education, experience, and training to gather, assess, and communicate important process safety-related information.
  • Develop a process safety policy that is periodically reviewed and revised, as necessary, and is an integral part of the company’s culture, values, and performance standards.
  • Establish a board champion for process safety who initiates discussion at all board meetings and leads process safety oversight and other initiatives on behalf of the board.
  • Communicate process safety policies and their importance, as well as the crucial role of workers in risk identification and management.
  • Establish strong Board visibility, including site visits, presentations, and board-level training initiatives, including health and safety training courses, as well as the creation of company-specific programs with an emphasis on process safety.

Guidance for good communication practices is also provided to ensure that shareholders receive critical information to hold management and the Board accountable for a company’s safety performance, including:

  • Annual reports from boards of directors to investors and shareholders should provide sufficient information relating to the company’s process safety performance.
  • Annual reports should include detailed sections on topics, such as risk factors, process safety and operational risks, and environmental and social responsibility.
  • Boards should effectively communicate process safety performance in the form of leading and lagging safety indicator data that provide sufficient information concerning the safety of their operations, major hazards and related safety issues, and areas for improvement.

The document further highlights best practices by the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS), safety culture policies issued by the Bureau of Safety and Environment Enforcement (BSEE), as well as effective leadership for health and safety issued by international regulators and trade associations. View the full document HERE.

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical incidents. The agency’s board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in safety management systems.

The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Please visit our website, www.CSB.gov.

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