Trevor Kletz, one of the worlds most revered experts
on process safety, has cited industrys macho
culture as one of the main causes of recent
Kletz, who spent almost forty years at ICI before forging a
second career as an author on process safety and loss
prevention, says that while there has been no deliberate
decision to spend less on safety, many senior managers have
taken their eye off the ball and that a macho approach to
get stuck in has been the underlying cause of
His comments were shared with an audience of 250 chemical
and process engineers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at the Hazards
Asia Pacific process safety conference, organized by the
Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) and the Chemical
Industries Council of Malaysia (CICM).
Many workers dont see the need to follow all the
rules or the permit-to-work procedures, said Kletz.
Our job, they say, is to get stuck in and get the job
done, not fill in forms. In time this macho approach becomes
the local custom and practice.
But Kletz warned that simply blaming senior management for
putting the pursuit of money ahead of safety is wrong.
Its easy to point the finger at the management
and assume that a culture of cutting corners started at the
top. It is worth remembering that the same culture can also
originate at the bottom, driven by the desire to get the job
done. The task of management is to know this and make sure
its done properly.
Kletz, a Fellow of IChemE, the Royal Society of Chemistry
and the Royal Academy of Engineering, was unable to attend the
event in person and his written remarks were delivered by
IChemE director of policy and communication Andrew
Furlong said that Kletzs message left some audience
members uncomfortable but that his points needed to be
Industry leaders must recognize that a workplace
culture which is entirely production focused places
lives at risk, Furlong said.
Delegates from 20 countries are in Kuala Lumpur this week
for the event. Other keynote speakers include representatives
from PETRONAS, Tianjin University, China, Malaysias
department of occupational safety and health, and the UK Health
and Safety Executive.