Inspectioneering Journal

Learning From the Past: Not Letting the Pendulum Swing to the Opposite Extreme in Our Mechanical Integrity Programs

Part 2

By Greg Alvarado, Chief Editor at Inspectioneering. This article appears in the November/December 2008 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.
This article is part 2 of a 2-part series.
Part 1Part 2


In Part 1 of this two-part series, I covered issues related to the following US Chemical Safety Board statement through paragraph 21. In this article, I will cover the remaining as related to fixed equipment reliability and mechanical integrity. Another important development has occurred since writing part 1, the global economic crisis. It becomes even more important as companies tighten their fiscal belts, that budget cutting does not compromise mechanical integrity.

Paragraphs 22-27 again echo the importance of fostering a culture that raises the awareness of plant workers to conditions and practices that could lead to unsafe events. The author recommends that management reward such vigilance.

A good culture is all about constant measurement and improvement. It is about having rigorous auditing procedures throughout the organization. It is about ensuring that workers are encouraged and actually rewarded for bringing safety problems to the attention of management, even to the highest levels. It is about encouraging the reporting and the investigation of warning events. (Paragraph 22)

Many of the CSB team’s findings are indicative of management culture issues at BP. The findings also raised serious concerns about the effectiveness of mechanical integrity programs, hazard analyses, management of change programs, and incident investigation programs. There are also many other issues in the March 23 incident that are perhaps harder to quantify but equally important, and I’ll offer some examples. (Paragraph 23)

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