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Safety Culture, Leadership and Enforcement

Mutual Joint Visit Workshop for Seveso Inspectors
The Hague, The Netherlands         16-18 September 2015

Safety culture and safety leadership have long been discussed as essential for consistent long term control of major accident hazard risks.  In recent years, a number of high profile accidents, including Toulouse (France, 2001), Texas City (USA, 2005), and Buncefield (UK, 2005) have brought attention to the important influence that these factors have in reducing risks at chemical hazard sites. While always a part of the risk management paradigm, future developments in safety management are likely to include safety culture and leadership broadly operational across the vast spectrum of high risk sites. Moreover, EU Seveso competent authorities are increasingly recognising that the government has a role to play in helping sites achieve long term gains in safety management by focusing on these linked issues.  

Seveso obligations notably affected by these developments are inspections, safety management systems, safety reports, and accident investigation. Competent authorities may find such knowledge about the use and effectiveness of performance measures useful in both active and reactive situations:

  • Active situations are situations in which the authority actively seeks to encourage and foster use of these concepts to improve major hazard control on the site.
  • Reactive situations are defined as situations in which the operator presents such activities as evidence of compliance and the competent authority must perforce evaluate their adequacy in a compliance context.

This workshop examines how inspection tools and enforcement strategy can be adapted to make a positive impact on site safety culture and leadership with the view of reducing chemical accident risks over the long term.  It seeks to provide some insights to help inspectors in the following areas:

  • How is safety culture  and leadership relevant to controlling chemical risks? What evidence is there that these factors can substantially influence potential chemical accident risk?
  • How can inspectors identify the degree to which a site has a strong safety culture and leadership, and what kind of subjective and objective inputs may be useful to making such judgements? What does negative and positive safety culture looks like in practice?
  • What are barriers that inspectors face in making safety culture part of their overall inspections strategy and what are solutions for overcoming these barriers?
  • What are barriers that inspectors face in talking about safety culture and leadership with site operators and what kind of strategies could help influence positive changes in this regard?
  • What kind of tools are available to support inspectors in interventions directed at improving safety culture and leadership? 
  • What kind of questions can an inspector ask to understand what factors are influencing the safety culture on the site and if the site has a positive or negative outlook in this regard?
  • What kind of questions can the inspector pose to the operator to help the site understand that it needs to make safety culture improvements?

The agenda, break-out questions, presentations and results from the break-out sessions can be found here.

Agenda (.doc) (web)

Materials and results -  Presentations, papers and break-out sessions