US regulator highlights risk-based approach

29 July 2014

by Stephen Shaw

Risk management featured strongly at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) held in May in Houston, Texas, indicating its growing importance among the US regulatory community. As part of his keynote address at the event, the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Director, Brian Salerno, highlighted the central role of risk in bringing together technology and the human element.

“It is also the foundation of how we enforce standards” he noted, adding that the Bureau was exploring a comprehensive risk-based inspection approach.  This equates with our own experience as clients increasingly seek to develop their own targeted, goal setting approach to process safety.

The conference attracted well over 100,000 attendees, the highest number in its history. The issues and challenges of the industry were addressed by 308 technical papers and 29 keynote presentations by a range of speakers from operators, government and academia.  The overall mood of the industry can be summed up as “positive yet challenging.”

Safety in offshore oil and natural gas development was featured in many of the papers and was also the focus of various special sessions hosted by The Center for Offshore Safety. The alignment between OTC’s sustainability, safety and environmental protection emphasis and ERM's mission and capabilities was evident throughout the event, with a number of major industry clients taking part in panel discussions around safety.

In emphasizing the growing importance of a risk-based approach, Director Salerno called for a greater emphasis on risk methodologies such as the Bowtie approach for taking a high level view of risk events and identifying appropriate prevention and mitigation barriers. Such an approach, he said, was helpful to both regulators and auditors in gauging a company’s commitment to its own safety plan.

Stephen Shaw is an ERM Risk Management Partner based in Houston. For further information/discussions on any of the issues raised in this article please contact Stephen Shaw.


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