BP focuses on safety after poor 2002

Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- BP had a bad year for workplace safety last year and the oil company must step up its safety efforts, according to the head of the company's Alaska operations.

Steve Marshall, president of BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., told employees in a memo this month that the company must approach workplace safety ''as if our lives and our future in Alaska depend on it. Because they do.''

Marshall outlined a string of incidents that befell the company last year, including a well explosion that badly injured BP North Slope oil field worker Don Shugak in August, the death of contract welder Rodney Rost in December, a high monthly injury rate and an average of more than six vehicle incidents per month.

BP can't have another bad safety year and must ''transform our safety culture so that we meet the standard set by our global organization,'' Marshall said in his memo. He set tough new goals to hold down workplace accidents.

''And we'll achieve these targets legitimately, not by failing to report incidents or hiding them,'' Marshall wrote.

Paul Laird, a BP spokesperson in Anchorage, said Marshall sent the memo to all BP employees to emphasize that, if the company is to achieve good business results in Alaska, it has to improve on safety.

''We have always put emphasis on being competitive for investments,'' Laird said. ''One element of that is having an excellent health, safety and environmental record. We didn't have that in 2002. It was below our standards, and it was below the norm of what happened in the rest of BP.''

London-based BP is Alaska's second-largest oil producer and runs most of the North Slope oil fields, including Prudhoe Bay, the largest field in North America and a pearl in BP's global portfolio. The company has about 1,150 employees in Alaska and uses many contractors.

Marshall set goals of one case per quarter with a lost work day, three recordable injuries per month, and one auto incident per month.

BP has said it expects to receive a notice of violation and probably a fine soon from Alaska Occupational Safety and Health inspectors regarding the Aug. 16 explosion and fire at Prudhoe Bay well A-22. The inspectors have told BP it will be found in violation of state law requiring companies to ensure worker safety.

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