Shoreham Airshow Disaster and the Oil & Gas Industry: Where Is The Shared Learning?

22 March 2016

I saw in the news that the pre-inquest into the Shoreham air show disaster commences today on the 22nd of March. This caught my eye because earlier news bulletins had reported that inadequate risk assessment was one of the key causes of this tragedy. I have a long-held view that risk assessment in the industry I know best (i.e. oil and gas) is becoming less and less effective. In reading the AAIB Special Report (check out the link below), we can try to understand where the risk assessment process had failed, resulting in the loss of 11 lives. In this report, I found words that any of us working in the oil and gas industry will be very familiar with, including: ‘suitable and sufficient risk assessments’, ‘safety management’, ‘publishing guidance’, ‘a person who is fit and competent’ and ‘safety indicators’ which all suggested to me that perhaps there were more similarities between this aviation incident and the incidents that occur within the world of oil and gas. Add to the mix, requirements for ‘Permit to Fly’ and ‘separation from the public’ (i.e. control of work), as well as enhanced permissions and authorisations in relation to more transparent assurance and communications, then the list of commonalities continues to grow.

So where is this rant taking us?

Do you think that there is an opportunity for shared learning? Do we consistently share learnings across the broader Major Accident Hazards industries? Is the Shoreham Air display disaster only linked to Macondo by the same number of fatalities?

Where is the cross learning? Why do major organisations within these industries always look internally to find solutions to issues which largely have all happened before?

I’ll follow the Shoreham inquiry with interest and expect to see even more evidence of common challenges between these two industries. Perhaps one day, we’ll be able to find some common solutions... hmmmm, I live in hope.

Also see more postings in the Risk Dimensions Blog.