Note from the Chair, 29 May 2008

Leading from the top: avoiding major incidents, 29 April 2008

Following the conference we organised on 29 April, I have been reflecting on the positive approach and energy that you and other senior colleagues in the major hazard sector brought to listening, interacting and sharing experiences about process safety leadership. I'd particularly like to thank you for finding time to attend and for contributing so constructively.

I strongly endorse the point many of you made that we need to build on the momentum generated by the 250 or so senior people at the conference. I hope the day allowed you to extend your network of contacts and that this will prove an enduring resource to share learning across the major hazards sector. Indeed, as I said in final remarks, if we didn't make full use of the consensus and energy to make a real difference it would not just be a pity but may well be a tragedy.

As a reminder, I am attaching the overheads containing the key feedback from the four workshop sessions. We'll expand those outputs over the next few weeks to reflect the fuller feedback from the workshops. We will also put forward some suggestions on how we can help industry to set up the CEO Forum that many appeared keen to see. We'll also provide some thoughts on how the Trade Association initiative, to improve learning from across the whole major hazard sector, can be made a reality.

The overheads used by Steve Flynn, Jeremy Bending and Bill Coley are now on HSE's website as is the media-briefing podcast. We will shortly be posting on the website a storyboard on the day, with photos, together with the edited video of the day which will also include excerpts from the Ministers' speeches, as well as those from Geoffrey Podger and myself, the summing up and the Q&A session.

In the meantime I would encourage you to share widely the key points that emerged from the conference:

  • Process safety cannot be managed from the boardroom: senior managers need to 'walk the talk' and listen to their frontline staff
  • We cannot assume that everyone understands what process safety is and why it is so important in managing the major hazards business
  • Industry needs to create a CEOs' forum to share good practice and knowledge transfer
  • A robust, real, but practicable peer review process is highly desirable, and
  • Meaningful key performance indicators are really important in managing process safety.

Thank you again for attending the conference: I will be in touch again early next month with suggestions as to how we can all work together to make further progress. If you have any comments or suggestions to make on how we can take the agenda forward, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

Judith Hackitt
Chair, Health and Safety Executive

Institute of Directors Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland

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