In a piece right out of Inverse Universe, a story at Tampabay dot com states that Buccaneer Petroleum and Transamerica, the Deepwater Horizon wild well folks, were so focused on safety that they were unable to focus on safety.
Among the blurry areas:
- BP and Transocean’s “bridging document,” designed to align safety procedures between the companies, was generic and addressed only six safety issues, but none of them dealt with major issues.
- The companies didn’t have key process limits or controls for safe drilling.
- There were no written instructions for how to conduct a crucial test at the end of the cementing process, one that ultimately was misinterpreted by the crew after it was conducted several times, each time differently.
- Similar concerns about too narrow a focus on personal safety were raised after an explosion in 2005 at BP’s Texas City refinery that killed 15 people, but few of the panel’s recommendations were implemented on the offshore rig.
As near as I can decipher it, the reasoning seems to be that the two titans of industry were so wrapped up in rules to prevent personal injuries (broken legs, back sprains, and hangnails) to employees (and, no doubt, attendant liability for workers’ comp), that they didn’t pay attention to minor distractions such as exploding wells; spewing oil; burning, sinking oil rigs; and drowning employees.
Nice suits do not correlate with competence.
When you see one of those commercials set against an industrial background and showing a Master of the Universe in a suit with an ill-fitting hard hat talking to some schmuck in work clothes, remind yourself of just who in that scene actually knows what he is doing and does real work.
Hint: It’s not the suit.