Lessons learned from the BP oil spill

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The Washington Post has an article about some of the lessons learned from the British Petroleum oil spill that will be of interest to those who work in High Reliability Organizations, such as wildland fire. Here is an excerpt:

A panel of scientific experts studying the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has concluded that “an insufficient consideration of risk and a lack of operating discipline” contributed to the disaster, adding that key “decisions also raise questions about the adequacy of operating knowledge on the part of key personnel” on the ill-fated drilling rig.

The interim report from the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council says that a variety of failures “indicate the lack of a suitable approach for anticipating and managing the inherent risks, uncertainties, and dangers associated with deepwater drilling operations and a failure to learn from previous near misses.”

The report, set for Wednesday afternoon release but reported by the Wall Street Journal, draws largely on evidence that has already emerged in the course of other inquiries into the April 20 blowout at the Macondo well. The blowout killed 11 people aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which caught fire and sank, triggering the enormous oil spill.

The committee of academics appears to have been taken aback by the education and training levels of people on the rig. The chairman of the committee is Donald C. Winter, professor in the University of Michigan’s Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering.

“Personnel on the Deepwater Horizon were mostly trained on the job, and this training was supplemented with limited short courses,” the report said. “While this appears to be consistent with industry standard practice and current regulations … it is not consistent with other safety-critical industries such as nuclear power or chemical manufacturing.”

Thanks Dick

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.