IChemE President Urges Executives to Change Safety Mindset

Judith Hackett, president of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), Rugby, U.K., and chair of the U.K.'s Health and Safety Executive, says top executives of chemical companies must rethink their approach to process safety. Speaking via a video link at IChemE's first Hazards Australasia Conference, held this week in Perth, Australia, she cautioned: "Boards who do not focus on process safety have a very serious gap in their Corporate Risk register and are potentially taking a gamble with the survival of their business.

"We need leaders who can live with a chronic sense of unease and who can spot the warning signs of complacency creeping in… Be clear that your role is to create unease, not to provide false reassurance. It is essential that we all focus on this need for a culture of constant unease… which replaces complacency.

"And we need leaders to give the same priority to process safety wherever they are in the world — because the threat of process- related incidents occurring is the same worldwide.

"All high hazard industries have to make a commitment to leadership in process safety. Society is becoming less and less tolerant of mistakes… We are not yet at the point where process safety is part of the DNA of running a major hazards business."

Two recent Chemical Processing articles — "Process Safety Begins in the Board Room"  and "Achieve Effective Process Safety Management"  — provide practical pointers for developing the proper mindset.

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