James Baker – III

1101890213_400You may wonder what is that, Ex-White House Chief of Staff, Former Secretary of State, and Treasury Secretary who served Three American Presidents, (Ford, Reagan, Bush Sr.)has to do with Safety….!!!!

James Baker III, who would turn 87, in a few days time, was the Head of the panel that authored the scorching /Scathing Incident enquiry Report during Jan 2007,(10 years on!) on bp Texas City Disaster of March 2005. The Explosion killed 15 people and injured around 170. Baker spent 100s of hours with team, sub team, came with a 360 Page Report which is an eye opener for every ESH professional to go through and work on improvements at their facilities. The reading of the report is a must, more so if you manage or connected to Process Safety Management of hazardous process and chemicals at every technical function as per OSHA 1910.119 or equivalent. ( I would say, in an Indian crude primitive equivalent, would be if your facility is covered under  Chapter IV A of Factories act in a vanilla version).

As James Baker points out in the bp report, ( as was in other disasters like Piper Alpha in which Lord Cullen  worked a Report) lack of following elements lead to major incidents. The report points out to gaps, in the following elements of Safety program implementation thus leading to the disasters.

Piper Alpha Memorial, 167 men lost their lives 1988. Hazlehead Park, Aberdeen, Scotland! 


  1. Corporate Safety Culture.
    • Process Safety Leadership.
    • Employee Empowerment
    • Providing resources and ensuring process safety capabilities.
    • Incorporation of Process safety elements in to Management decision process.
  2. Process Safety management Systems thro Risk based approach, Communication, Auditing, Learning and stay on course not letting complacency in! 
  3. Performance Evaluation, Corrective Action, Corporate Oversight.

“Industry reacts

Many oil companies launched voluntary, internal process safety management (PSM) audits based on the Baker Panel report and also CSB’s overall recommendations. Some have even conducted process safety culture evaluations. The Baker Panel concluded BP emphasized personal safety to the detriment of process safety (OGJ, Jan. 28, 2008, p. 60).

John S. Bresland, CSB chairman and chief executive officer, said, “The Baker Panel report is one of the more significant reports written on the refining industry in the last 10-15 years. Much of the refining industry is taking to heart the recommendations.”

He added that oil companies and chemical companies are studying the reports.

Companies abroad have requested copies of a CSB safety video entitled “Anatomy of a Disaster” about the BP Texas City explosion.

Steve Arendt, a vice-president with ABS Group Consulting, was contracted by the Baker Panel to lead the independent assessment of the five US BP refineries on behalf of the panel. Since then, he has given about 100 presentations to various industries, including talks to more than 40 oil companies.

“The effect of the Baker report and the CSB investigation was the equivalent of an extension of Sarbanes-Oxley to process safety,” Arendt said. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 requires top executives to certify corporate financial statements. It was enacted as part of the response to questionable accounting practices at companies, including Enron Corp.

“Process safety is now on the radar screen of boards and chief executive officers,” Arendt said. “It became much more of a board-level topic because of the Baker Panel’s conclusions about the organizational culture issues that existed in BP at the time of the accident.”

Companies have used numerous approaches to apply lessons from the reports of the CSB and the Baker Panel, said Arendt, who encourages senior managers of oil companies to connect the lessons from both technical evaluations and culture evaluations.

“If you don’t address organizational culture, then all the problems uncovered from a technical standpoint are likely to return,” Arendt said.”

 So How companies can go about it!!So what is that best in business have that make them excel in Process Safety Management and work in a highly hazardous material, process environment that make safety happen like walk in the park. Implement PSM-MS  (CCPS is a good guideline) which goes beyond OSHA 1910.119 with focus on following elements. Always look and reach out for support /expertise.

# CCPS process safety elements OHSAS 1910.119 Linkage HSE Standards Norms References
1 Process safety culture   HSE Commitment Program.

Alignment Contracts.

      Management & Resources ownership. Accountability. 
      HSE Improvement Plan
2 Compliance with standards Process safety information Legal and other requirements
      New Plant Equipment and Process Design Norms.
      Storage and Handling of Dangerous, Hazardous and Non Hazardous Materials
3 Process safety competency   Basis of Safety
      Selection and Training, competence of personnel
      HSE Management Resources
4 Workforce involvement Employee participation Communication and Consultation Standard
      Site HSE/PSM Committee
5 Stakeholder Outreach   Communication and Consultation Standard
      Community Relations Programs /Outreach
      Community HSE Performance Interaction, Feedback Reports
  Understand Hazard and Risk    
6 Process knowledge management Process safety information Basis of Safety
      Technical Plant Documentation, Dossiers
      Transfer of Technology as applicable
7 Hazard Identification and Risk Analysis Process hazard analysis Hazard Studies
      Periodic Hazard Studies
      HSE Assurance Standard, Escalations, Site Risk Portfolio
      Material Hazards Standard
      Fire Risk Management
      HSE Risk Management
      Risk Assessments of Existing operations (Normal, Abnormal, Emergency)
      Major Hazard Facilities
  Manage  & Mitigate Risk    
8 Operational Procedures Operating procedures Plant SOPs customised to site, not corporate procedures
      Systems of Work Standard
9 Safe Work Practices Hot Work permit Permit to Work Suite
      Job Safety & Environment Aspects Impacts.
10 Asset integrity and reliability Mechanical integrity Plant and Equipment Integrity program
11 Contractor management Contractors Contractors & Suppliers Protocols
      Onsite Contractor SHE Management
12 Training and Performance Assurance Training Basis of Safety
      HSE Training
      Selection and Training, communication protocols
13 Management of change Management of change Management of Change
      Management of Change Non Technical
14 Operational readiness Pre- start-up safety review Capital Projects
15 Emergency management Emergency planning and response Emergency Plans
16 Learn & Improve:-

Incident investigation

Incident investigation Incident Management and corrective action
17 Measurement and metrics   HSE Performance and Reporting Program
      HSE Performance Reporting, PSM Metrics
18 Auditing Compliance audits HSE Assurance program
      Auditing and Self Assessment Norms
      Corporate HSE Audits.
      Internal HSE Audits
19 Management review and continuous improvement   HSE Performance and Reporting Linkage to PSM Metrics
  • Leadership is very essential to carry out safety programs. Good leaders develop an amazing safety culture. Great leaders have ability to spot potential issues miles ahead and learn from it!!! 
    DKB 2
    Great Business leaders have learning culture to work from other company, entity incidents!!  Leadership supports the line management……  this was in 1992 on static electricity hazards! Much before any OHSAS-18001 was in place!! (officially came in 1999)  (Note the word Risk Reduction catalogue) 

    SE Basle 94
    Great leaders encourage learning and working the best practices from global perspective beyond legal norms….. 
  • Great organisation work culture is all about focused  on learning curve with norms, embracing standards ahead of the curve. They take advantage of best in business protocols.
    Dow mond index
    DOW MOND INDEX for process, Product Hazard Ranking. 
    Zürich Insurance, A pioneer in RISK Management with developing Site RISK Portfolio linked to process, products as well as facility siting. 1992……. 
    Risk Portfolio from Site (Normal ops, Emergency situation) rolled up to Country, Business managed Annually.  You want to sleep peacefully, Sweat a lot in working, Risk assessments!

    Process Safety Culture Essential ingredients:-

  • Establish Safety as a core value—-> Values don’t change over time come what may!
  • Provide Strong, Visible,Felt Leadership—-> Walk the talk, keep track; Stay on top.
  • Empower Individuals to be successful in their roles, Questioning attitude.
  • Always Maintain a sense of vulnerability –>Murphy is always around. Be Humble.
  • Formalise PSM culture work on perception survey, opinion look for blind spots.
  • Let experts to experts job. Listen and encourage Diverse opinion but data matters.
  • Open, honest, Transparent communications, interactions. 
  • Openly share best practices, encourage implementation beyond organisation to community, neighbouring industries. 
  • Build, sustain Mutual Trust.Screen Shot 2017-04-02 at 5.29.06 PM

How to execute PSM:-

  1. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel:- (Courtesy ABS consulting which helped Baker in bp, Investigation) Seek Experts. 


2) Synergize the process, work for common aspects to implement with current HSE-MS and other Business systems. psm1

3) Embrace the guidelines, documents, go beyond compliance, in absence of local regulations work through global best practices Think Global Act Local.  (The Image courtesy, Mhd. Rehman – Houston) process-safety-life-cycle-management-best-practices-and-processes-6-638

4) Embrace Reality:- Despite working best practices, due to external factors which are beyond an organisation, individual controls, things can slip due to following factors and can derail process safety management program. These would have been some of the latent reasons behind bp Texas City, Chernobyl or Piper Alpha. Watch out for these and ensure that guards are put in place.

  • Overload due to too many initiatives losing focus, flavor of the month to drown signal from the noise.
  • Change of personnel, in environment where systems are absent personal expertise carries the game. When they change, system just buckles down! Watch out! Great companies make things happen due to systems, not individuals! 
  • Absence of continuity in leadership, systems, hallmark of success in many organisations are continuity in people, program, process such that it becomes second nature,mundane.
  • Complacency, when things appear to go extremely well, expect it to nosedive and go bad, NO NEWS IS BAD NEWS! 
  • Confusing data! inconsistent representation of data, metrics and unit of measure.
  • No Knowledge sharing:- Greatest derailer of all, Knowledge is the only resource that doubles when given. Many don’t see that way due to personal insecurity.
  • Confusion in reporting norms:- Work on one company ONE DATA. One protocol. Language used should be consistent.
  • Loss of Data /Information. Always work back up, restoration mechanism.

Process Safety Management when executed well can lead to safer workplace, improving productivity. 

Good luck in implementation. God Bless.


3/4/17, 0835am. 

Author: Karthik B; Orion Transcenders. Bangalore.

Lives in Bangalore. HESS Professional of 30+ yrs experience. Global Exposure in 4 continents of over 22 years in implementation of Health, Environment, Safety, Sustainability. First batch of Environmental Engineers from 1985 Batch. Qualified for implementing Lean, 6Sigma, HR best practices integrating them in to HESS as value add to business.

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