By: Hugo Ashkar, Global Risk Manager at BP

Hugo, can you tell us about your role as Global Risk Manager at BP?

I lead the execution of risk management activities in BP’s global portfolio of major upstream construction projects, both on-shore and off-shore. Ours is the largest projects organization in BP, and we currently have 60-75 projects and any given time, all of which are considered major projects in terms of complexity and or capital investment.

I’m responsible for deploying a holistic project risk management process. I develop process improvements, capture learnings, and on the people side, I’m also responsible for growing the risk management profession by developing competency and providing training.

How in your role as Global Risk Manager did you come to be so interested in understanding the human side of failure?

I see this as the next step in the evolution of applied risk management principles in the oil and gas industry. It’s a personal area of research that involves understanding a linkage between safety incidents and barrier weaknesses— barriers meaning risk management barriers.

Our experts’ research into human performance deal with two of the three types of barriers we generally see: passive, active and procedural barriers. Passive systems barriers do not require human intervention. Active and procedural barriers do require human intervention, so it is in those two barrier groups where further research is warranted. We hope to learn from these incidents and their relationship to weak barriers, so we can use risk management tools and principles to prevent future incidents. 

What is human performance exactly in the context of the oil and gas industry? And why is it so important right now?

Human performance is about understanding and improving how people interact with the plant, processes, and each other to create a safe state environment. In hazardous industries like oil and gas, it is unrealistic to believe we can be 100% safe. The best we can aspire is to work in what we call a “safe state”. We need to understand incidents from the point of view of the person – which is the next step in the understanding of incidents [...]

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