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Land Mines on the Road to Safety


By Simon Hope

I never cease to wonder at the depths to which individuals will lower themselves for self-promotion.

I watch in horror as people whom you would never consider capable manage to wheedle and bully their way into positions they should never hold—destroying along the way other   individuals who should be rising through the ranks.

© iStock / leofrancini

The offshore industry is not immune from poor decision making.

I look at the industry we are in, and it seems no better or different than any other, unfortunately.

The Buck Never Stops

What I see are decisions made that are not fit for their purpose—and, sometimes, downright dangerous. These decisions are made for a quick buck or to make oneself look good in other people’s eyes in the short term.

(Whoops, I seem to have defined the average bean counter, who puts the consequences of his/her decision well below how it shows up on the balance sheet.)

How can a pencil pusher make informed decisions on the suitability of a component or service solely based on cost?

Even when a recognized expert has passed a technical judgment and appraisal condemning the proposed "cost effective" choice, people still plough on behind a wall of bluster and platitudes citing spurious references and benefits!

Smoking Out PFP

A classic example is the use of Passive Fire Protection repair regimes that are not tested, such as intumescent epoxy used to repair cementitious or incompatible organic.

PFP Anomaly

HSE offers PFP coatings guidance that is too often ignored.  Here, the coating is eroded and the retention mesh exposed but intact, considered a Level 2 Severity.

The penny-pinching brigade is shown a system by a salesman but fails to ask the right questions about its integrity and performance and whether it is compliant and fit for purpose. Instead, they are led astray by the $ and £ signs before their eyes.

Hopefully, someone will step in and stop this before the damage is done and the company is left holding an uncertifiable repair of dubious worth and quality.

Tuning Out HSE

In the UK offshore industry, the Government Health and Safety Executive (HSE) lays down clear guidelines and ground rules, but it is amazing the number of times these are ignored

These observations are not unique, but I can safely say that I have seen this sort of thing time and time again—and it worries the bejeebers out of me. I look at what should be safety systems and know that they are fatally flawed by greed, ignorance or incompetence.

PFP Anomaly
Surface cracks, chips, gouges, scrapes, spalling and topcoat loss are a Severity Level 3 when located in protected environmental locations.

Unfortunately, the problem seems to be growing. How to stop these bullying individuals and techniques?

Challenging Decisions

Not easy at the best of times, and downright impossible at others, it still rankles when I see things going on that need to be stopped.

More and more, I find that I need to challenge people’s decisions, to see what logic has been applied to generate their desired outcome. But too often, showing up their flawed logic or lack of understanding is rewarded with only a blank expression.

Indeed, unless you are careful, your comments may be turned around and used as an endorsement (by dint of the fact that you have looked at this), so the disaster ploughs ahead—and, now, with your name on it!

Can You Hear Me Now?

Typical of this is the dreaded "Selective Deafness," where clear and concise instruction or reasoning is ignored (because they think they know best and can save time or money), and catastrophe ensues.

Offshore painting guide

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) sets clear guidelines and ground rules for those who care to follow them.

Lost in translation may be something as simple as not following the standard for surface preparation, the ambient condition requirements, pot life restrictions or application instructions.

These short cuts are rife and can easily be avoided by taking a few minutes to read a data sheet, to see that what is being done is not compliant.

The Write Stuff

Having been linked a couple of times to something that was not actually my doing (fortunately, no one was hurt and nothing damaged beyond repair), I am now a lot more cautious.

The moral of all this is that you need to ensure that whatever you said is very clearly and concisely written down, in an email or similar document, and then sent to all parties involved.

Harbor meeting
© iStock / savas keskiner

Speaking your mind is fine, but it's best to document and appropriately distribute those concerns in writing.

You need to make sure that all concerns are clearly highlighted, along with full justification for why you feel that things should be done differently.

It is also a good idea to provide constructive recommendations as to how the job should be done. This is not only our responsibility, but may also help blunt the accusation that you are being obstructive.


Simon Hope

Three decades as a self-employed coating consultant for the oil majors, military, offshore contractors and coating manufacturers—plus stints in shipping, power generation and other industries—have provided plenty of fodder for Simon Hope’s sharp observations. He welcomes “a healthy or unhealthy debate” on any coating topic, adding: “I never cease to be amazed at the messes that individuals manage to achieve—and, having reached rock bottom, seem to think that dynamiting is the way forwards.”



Tagged categories: BIS Salamis; Fire; Fire-resistive coatings; Health and safety; Oil and Gas; Simon Hope

Comment from Robert Hill, (11/13/2014, 3:14 AM)

Spot on Simon

Comment from Hugh Cummings , (3/18/2015, 3:28 AM)

Oh Simon, the similarities I can make to this are endless

Comment from Mark Smith, (8/4/2016, 11:02 AM)

Interesting and Fact!!

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