What you can learn from the Buncefield explosion and apply it to preventing disasters in any business.
I’ve been 4Sighting recently about the Buncefield disaster, when over 250,000 litres of fuel overflowed from a tank and caused a massive explosion.
While I was researching the events and the enquiry, what surprised me most was these 2 things:
I don't use the word 'disaster' lightly. Not only was it the biggest fire since world war 2 and burnt for 5 days, but it cost the companies responsible over £9 million in fines and costs. This would have been much higher now since new sentencing guidelines were introduced in March 2016.
It was a miracle no-one died but as the events happened early on a Sunday morning, there were very few people around. 40 people were injured though and the psychological scars take a long time to heal.
Going back to those 'little things':
Putting things right in the H&S world doesn't always have to be complicated or costly - often, putting small things in place and making small changes in working practices can dramatically lower your risk level.
It can also mean you prevent injuries to your employees and the public¹. And it can keep you safe from prosecution - if something does go wrong a mitigating factor is that you can show you've made an effort to control hazards.
¹Employers have a duty of care to employees under section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and to non-employees under section 3.