Industry group develops new standards for offshore safety auditors
An industry safety clearinghouse formed after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill is about to kick off a program for certifying outside auditors that the federal government may soon require for the examination of offshore operators' safety plans. Charlie Williams, executive director of the Houston-based Center for Offshore Safety, tells The Houston Chronicle editorial board that regulators now allow internal auditors to meet requirements for independent audits of company programs called Safety and Environmental Management Systems. Proposed federal requirements, however, would require that auditors outside of an offshore company must sign off on its safety systems. Williams says the regulatory change was under way before the April 20, 2010, blowout of BP's Macondo well that killed 11 workers and spilled millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf. The disaster, however, led to new focus on industry dangers and to the creation of the Center for Offshore Safety, which is charged with developing auditing procedures and certifying auditors. Williams, a former top Shell scientist, says the audits will help companies with process safety–the management of overall safety systems–as distinct from practices specifically aimed at preventing individual worker injuries. Read the full story here.
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