Avoiding the 'watermelon' effect 

Are we doing enough in the process industry to prevent the next major accident?

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Developing a 'chronic sense of unease' towards major accidents is seen as a vital step for companies with hazardous facilities to reach the levels of performance being achieved in truly high reliability organizations. Major accidents at Texas City and Buncefield in 2005 marked a watershed for the global process industry and led to general agreement that senior leadership is vital in developing an effective process safety culture. Fast forward over a decade however and evidence suggests that large losses are still happening at a consistently high rate across the global process industry.

In this white paper ABB presents the findings from analysis of feedback and data from senior process safety professionals. It introduces the concept of the 'watermelon' effect, where metrics appear 'green' suggesting that everything is under control, and yet digging below the surface reveals signs of signs of 'red' indicating ill-health in the arrangements to prevent major accidents. It also investigates what improved metrics are needed to avoid the 'watermelon' effect to ensure senior management receives accurate information on the state of risk controls in the business.

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