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Safety - BP

BP is very pleased to be a participant in celebrating IBE's 30th anniversary and commends the creativity of having companies adopt a value for each day of November 2016. BP has adopted the value of safety.

Safety is BP’s number one priority, as well as one of our five core values.

I’d like to reflect on some of the reasons why we felt it was important to make it one of our core values, and how it fits in with some of our wider thinking both on safety and on the kind of company BP wants to be.

Some of what I’ll be sharing with you I’ve only learned recently myself. I came to my current role from leading the legal and ethics and compliance teams supporting BP’s global trading business. Our trading business has little in the way of physical operations compared to, for example, our upstream and downstream businesses. So while I knew how important safety is for BP, and I never questioned it as one of our values, in my day to day job I did not spend as much time reflecting on the role of physical safety as a value, I was more focused on safety as it relates to compliance within financial markets. But my current role has given me the opportunity to take a wider perspective, and to discover the many parallels and connections between the Ethics & Compliance function, which I lead, and our counterparts in the fields of safety and environment.

A starting point is that we are a global business with people working around the clock at hundreds of sites, on ships, on drilling rigs and in plants all over the world. So like any business in our situation, we need people to operate safely all the time – including in the middle of the night, when no-one else is watching over them. Rules will only take you so far in those situations.

And this challenge becomes all the greater, when you remember that many of the safety and operational risks we manage are "low-probability, high-impact” risks.

But how do you keep those risks front and centre in people’s minds, every working minute of every day, when most of those individuals have carried out their work year in and year out without anything ever going wrong?

Again, rules will only take you so far.

We believe that the safest operations are those where everyone involved feels a commitment to safety. So at BP, one decision we made was that safety needs to be more than rules, and more than a priority – more even than our number one priority. It needs to be one of the values that we all hold: Safety, Courage, Excellence, Respect and One Team.

Companies with clear values have a stronger sense of purpose, which helps them perform better and last longer. Values are not just about how a business is performing today, but also about providing a framework to ensure it will perform well over the longer term.

And we found that safety as a value has many close connections with our other values. For example, a good speak up culture contributes to safety, just like it contributes to ethics and compliance. So all of us at BP are empowered and expected to speak up and stop the job if something feels unsafe or potentially harmful – just as we would if something feels wrong or unethical. That gives us a chance to put it right, and learn from it so we can prevent it from happening again. It takes courage to speak up, and that’s one reason why Courage is one of our values.

Alongside embedding this kind of behaviour, we have work going on around the world to improve safety at particular locations. This short film provides an example taken from our Bruce platform in the North Sea. It shows how the operational workforce went about successfully reducing the injury rate – not just by strengthening process safety procedures, but also by changing the culture of safety. Working together as One Team (another of BP’s core values), they created an ethos of looking after each other, intervening when something didn’t look right, but also commending one another for good practice and behaviour. And they saw a significant, measurable improvement in their injury rate. I find this film inspirational, and I hope you do too.

Rahul Saxena

Group Ethics & Compliance Officer
Rahul is the Group Ethics & Compliance Officer for BP plc 

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