Video on BP Tragedy Serving as a 'Cautionary Tale'

March 31, 2006
It's been a little more than 1 year since 15 workers died and 170 were hurt when explosions and fire rocked BP's Texas City, Texas, refinery. Since then, investigations have been launched, lawsuits have been filed, fines have been levied and reports grasping at the whys and hows of the worst U.S. refinery accident in more than a decade have been issued.

If anything positive can be taken away from the tragedy, officials from the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board say it's the level of interest from occupational safety stakeholders in learning how they can prevent similar tragedies from occurring at their own facilities.

"It seems that a lot of people involved in occupational safety and health around the world are paying very close attention to what has happened at BP and are taking from it the lessons learned so far as revealed in CSB findings," explains CSB's Sandy Gilmour.

Stakeholders from as far away as Germany, France, China, Korea and Malaysia have contacted CSB with questions about safety issues stemming from the BP incident, Gilmour adds.

While CSB says its final report on the Texas City accident which will include root causes and safety recommendations won't be issued until later this year, the agency already has a short, animated video available on its Web site that depicts CSB's theory of the events that led up to the Texas City tragedy.

CSB Director of Congressional, Public and Board Affairs Daniel Horowitz estimates the video has been downloaded 300,000 times, while about 500 DVD versions have been sent out to stakeholders as far away as Australia. Both the downloadable video and the DVD are free.

Based on feedback CSB is receiving, the BP video is being viewed as a "cautionary tale" by EHS stakeholders, Gilmour says.

"They're looking at the stages of the process that went wrong, alarms that did not go off, instruments that did not work," Gilmour explains. "[Companies] are using the video in classrooms all the way down to the shop floor."

Horowitz adds that the interest in the lessons-learned from the BP tragedy "is much broader than just refiners." The video has been requested by chemical plants, nuclear power stations and even NASA, Horowitz says.

"We find that to be very encouraging," Gilmour says. "We think it's a positive trend. And it's with some satisfaction that perhaps the lessons learned so far from the BP tragedy are being taken seriously."

Among those requesting the video was a senior safety official at a company in Texas, who told CSB that his company has made it mandatory for all 1,000 people at his facility to watch and discuss the BP video and other CSB videos in a plant-wide "timeout-for-safety meeting." (CSB had not yet obtained permission from the official to share his name and company name with the media.) The agency says it has received dozens of similar testimonials.

The BP video and other CSB videos can be viewed at

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