Boardrooms “gambling” with their business warns IChemE

Boardrooms who fail to focus on process safety are “gambling” with the survival of their business, according to the president of the Institution of Chemical Engineers.

Judith Hackitt called on industry to make a culture change at the top of organisations to prevent and mitigate major accidents.

“All high hazard industries have to make a commitment to leadership in process safety. Society is becoming less and less tolerant of mistakes,” Ms Hackitt told delegates by video at IChemE’s conference in Perth during November.

Ms Hackitt warned that industry was “not yet” at the point where process safety is ingrained in the DNA of running a major hazards business.

Speaking of the need for strong leadership, she added: “Boards who do not focus on process safety have a very serious gap in their Corporate Risk register and are potentially taking a gamble with the survival of their business.”

“We need leaders who know what they don’t know and are willing to learn.”

Ms Hackitt, who also presides as chair of Britain’s Health and Safety Executive, said leadership needed to live with a “chronic sense of unease” in order to stop “complacency creeping in”.

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