A warm welcome to everyone to a unique event convened by HSE as the regulator of most of the industries present here today and involving all major hazards and key stakeholders with the purpose of sharing good practice and learning across the whole major hazard sector.
Before I introduce the day, there are a few domestics that I need to explain together with details of what is being recorded for posterity [detailed domestic arrangements omitted].
OK ….Domestics over, I’ll return to my introduction, and will start by reflecting that in my many years of working in industry and now seeing industry through a different lens I believe there are a number of key lessons to be learned:
Higher up the tree measures of performance can also create a false sense of security – right up to Board level. An absence of incidents and injuries is of course good news – no-one can deny that. But is it really enough to give assurance of what may or may not be about to happen?
I am also struck by the similarity of the challenges faced by you all in your different sectors – increasingly ageing facilities some well beyond originally expected operating life; skills shortages in key trades and professions; cost and production pressures; balancing varied and often conflicting priorities, massive change of ownership – the list is a long one. But the key point for me in all of this is that in each of your sectors there is a tendency for you to view your problems as unique or special to you, and also to not look enough at others’ experiences as learning points for you.
Given the ability to see this from a different perspective, where I have had the privilege of visiting many of you and discussing those challenges with you individually I’d just like to make the observation that you are much more alike and have much more in common than you realise.
It is common for leaders to think they need to have all the answers or at least to find their own solutions but I think we are here today to explore a very different type of leadership – one where we share knowledge - not only our solutions but also our problems and the challenges we are facing. I am very confident of two things:
Back in February I chaired a smaller but similar conference to this for UKPIA during International Petroleum week. There were a number of non-UK delegates at that conference and I was surprised at the number of them who remarked to me that such an open dialogue between companies, regulators and stakeholders could never happen in many if not most other parts of the world. We all have a unique opportunity here today to do that and one which we must all make the most of.
Not only can we share experience which will make all of the businesses here today safer but we can also help to make them all more competitive. Others would find it difficult to emulate such a process. That provides a huge incentive for real leadership which is our quest here today. Let’s all make the most of this truly unique opportunity we have in front of us by committing to open and honest dialogue, real and lasting cross-sector networking, and a willingness to share, learn and to embed improvements.
I would now like to hand over to our first speaker - my colleague and Chief Executive of HSE – Geoffrey Podger.