June, 2018

201801JunAll DayPIPER ALPHA - WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?Loss Prevention BulletinLessons:Control of Work,Emergency Preparedness,Management of Change,Operational IntegrityLanguage:EN Origin: IChemE Document Type:Bulletin


The investigation into the Piper Alpha disaster has much to teach us thirty years on. Most of the physical evidence sank to the bottom of the North Sea, so the testimony of survivors and witnesses had to be woven together into a coherent story. The Cullen inquiry uncovered not only what probably happened on the terrible night of 06 July 1988, but also the complex path leading up to it, the early warnings and missed opportunities that might have prevented a tragedy in which 167 people lost their lives.

The lessons to be learned are applicable far beyond the offshore oil industry, across all hazardous industries, and every bit as relevant today.

They include: Management of change (design issues); Personal safety over process safety (fire water pumps on manual start to protect divers); Isolation and permits for maintenance (pump started before maintenance complete); Handover (inadequate transfer of information between crews, shifts and disciplines); Safety culture (complacent – everything’s fine); Emergency response – evacuation.


IChemEInstitution of Chemical Engineers