Major accident risk vs occupational risk

There are several focuses on safety improvement at the present time, including the “Reversing the trend” initiative by PSA. We think there is insufficient emphasis on the need to distinguish between major accident risk vs occupational accident risk.

Occupational accident risk implies no or very short time lag for feedback. If you do not wear PPE where it is mandatory, it is quite visible.

Major accident risk is on the other hand often characterized by very long delays between an error and the consequence. Consider one of Statoil’s incidents in 2016 (fire on Statfjord A), where a failure to investigate properly an incident in 2003, resulted in a fire in 2016, because the PM program had not been updated in 2003, due to inadequate incident investigation. Another illustration, when Statoil and Hydro merged in 2007, it took about 2.5 years before the HC leak frequency peaked in mid 2010, see also here.

The root causes of occupational accidents and major accidents may to a large extent be common. But the sequences, the delays and the possible actions are very different. It is therefore important to make this distinction. We think it is worrying that the working group appointed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs does not appear to have any members in the group nor in the secretariat with insight into major accident risk exposure and prevention.


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