Seven principles of leadership

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

We all need to raise the bar on process safety management, leadership and safety culture across the whole industry and it all begins with Leadership.

To prevent major incidents HSE recommends that major hazard organisations should focus on process safety leadership built around 7 key elements:

  1. Leadership which is demonstrated through actions from the top, so that all managers and staff know that process safety is being taken seriously. See the HSE publication "Leadership for the major hazard industries", INDG277 (rev1). More general guidance can be found in HSC/IoD Guidance "leading health and safety at work" INDG417
  2. Process safety management taking place at all business levels. Process safety is a Company Board issue and requires clear accountabilities at all levels, together with effective measurement systems, including indicators of process safety performance (allowing learning from near misses and pre-cursor events, and avoiding major incidents). The recent HSE/Chemical Industries Association publication HSG 254 outlines an approach for "Developing Process Safety Indicators for the chemical and major hazard industries".
  3. Real and dynamic risk assessments to ensure that staff understand the links between hazards and the risks they create, and the control measures that are in place to control them (the barriers to failure).
  4. Robust management of change approaches that capture real time plant and operational issues so that today's plant and operating envelope are properly understood by those that 'need to know it'.
  5. Sustainability, with the business focusing on long term performance, so that investment and maintenance decisions, in particular, are focused on the longer term, whilst also maintaining a responsible customer approach to any activities that are contracted out.
  6. Well trained and competent people at all levels in the organisation and in sufficient numbers to address steady state operation, periods of change and emergency situations, and the infrastructure to ensure sustained competency.
  7. A learning organisation that not only values and encourages learning from its own experiences, but looks beyond itself for lessons, and avoids complacency.
Institute of Directors Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland

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Updated 2021-01-15