On March 23rd 2005 an explosion and fire at BP’s Texas City Refinery in Houston, Texas killed 15 workers & injured 180 more.
The subsequent investigations – by BP itself, the US Chemical Safety Board and the independent Baker Panel – pointed to a host of fundamental, organisational failings.
But the root cause? That came down to one thing : people from the very top, right down through the organisation forgot to be afraid.
At the time I was working in the oil and gas industry, responsible for the integrity of a large number of high hazard facilities : it was my job to make sure we never suffered a Texas City. I felt a deep sense of responsibility and accountability. I believed then, as I believe now, that organisations have neither the need nor the right to harm people in the course of their business. That’s why I did what I did. That’s why I still do what I do.
Reading the reports into Texas City, I realised that this question of Are We Afraid? was critical for everyone, from the boardroom to the locker room, to keep asking themselves, day in, day out. So I created this video to get them engaged in doing so.
10 years on, and countless more needless and pointless deaths later, I believe that if you work in any kind of hazard business, you need to see the video and ask yourself the question. And you need to share it with those around you. We all owe it to those who have lost their lives, or suffered harm, in the pursuit of production and profit. And we owe it to our colleagues who come to work today as part of that on-going pursuit and who deserve to go home to their loved ones, safe each day. I believe you need to share it with everyone in your business.
Maybe on the 23rd March, 2015 – the 10th Anniversary of the Texas City disaster – you can find 4 minutes amongst the priorities of performance and profit to do so.
It wouldn’t kill you to do so, would it?
You can watch it here: Texas City : Are We Afraid?
Please feel free to share this message with anyone who might find it helpful, useful and/or impactful, and let’s together remember, reflect and recommit to doing all we can to avoid a repeat of this and other similar disasters.