Callide C turbine hall

Talking process safety

Dr Andrew Hopkins 

Q&A with dr andrew hopkins

Dr Andrew Hopkins, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the Australian National University, will deliver a breakfast briefing on process safety on
29 March at CS Energy’s Brisbane Office. Dr Hopkins will lead a discussion on “Why accidents repeat”, addressing both the human and organisational causes of major accidents.

CS Energy introduced a process safety management system in FY2018 and is hosting Dr Hopkins’ presentation to share his knowledge with our people and key stakeholders. In the Q&A below, Dr Hopkins talks about the role of organisational culture in process safety and what inspired him to write about this topic.

Q: Can you give us a preview of what you'll be covering in your presentation on 29 March?

Major process safety accidents keep recurring around the world because the organisational lessons from previous accidents have not been sufficiently appreciated. In my presentation I will discuss the root organisational causes that are common to many process safety accidents.

Q: How important is organisational culture in preventing process safety accidents from occurring?

The right organisational culture is essential for preventing process safety accidents. Culture is best defined as “the way we do things around here”. So, what determines the way we do things around here? The answer is top management. They set the example, they provide the incentives, and they devise an organisational structure that will provide the appropriate focus on process safety.

Q: What inspired you to write about process safety?

I was deeply affected by a 1979 coal mine explosion south of Sydney in which 14 men died. I later wrote books in the 1990s about the Moura coal mine explosion and Esso’s gas plant explosion at Longford near Melbourne.

One thing led to another and I found myself involved in investigations into two very high-profile accidents in the oil and gas industry in the US, each culminating in a book analysing the organisational failures involved.

I write because I have something to say about these accidents that no one else is saying. I am fascinated by the way organisations work and how process safety failures occur.