Serious accident prevention

A challenge with high stakes

Despite improvements in occupational safety (fewer accidents leading to time off work and a lower accident rate), serious and fatal accidents continue to occur.

A few studies have looked at the petroleum industry in order to better understand the phenomenon and draw some conclusions for actions to be taken. However, they have not yet resulted in sustainable, significant improvement. The lack of effective methods and procedures have led ICSI's industrial members to examine, question and initiate actions in their respective domains that may help to draw some useful lessons.


The aim of this Discussion Group is to provide a state-of-the-art review of the prevention of serious and fatal occupational accidents, whatever the cause. The goal is to help all actors to better define, in their respective domains, the actions that need to be taken to improve prevention. 

This theme meets the needs of industries that continue to see serious and fatal accidents occuring in both their own workforce and that of sub-contractors. Sub-contractors are also seeking solutions that can eradicate these accidents, and the Group looks closely at the issue of relations with contractors. The Group's work has already resulted in a number of lessons becoming clear:

- An anlysis of the nature of serious or fatal accidents makes it possible to determine recurrent situations and to draw out some rules, whose application should make it possible to avoid most accidents;

- Several of the companies involved have put in place 'golden' rules, or 'life-saving' rules, which are fundamental principles that define what the actors working directly in the field must do;

- Communication, management commitment, support and supervision enable the implementation of these rules;

- All of the managerial tools necessary for the implementation of the rules (meetings to encourage ownership and commitment, training, follow-up audits, etc.) are discussed.

A holistic approach

At the same time and in order to capitalise on good practices, ICSI has initiated a study on the establishment of 'golden' rules or equivalent concepts, which can be used by companies in the context of the prevention of serious and fatal occupational accidents. This wide-ranging study also includes an assessment of the adoption of these rules in the long term. To achieve this, the study will focus on the implementation of the golden rules and supporting tools for changes in safety culture in the companies concerned.

Furthermore, group members thought it would be useful to identify good practices that contractors and subcontractors could use as a focus for a joint commitment to good relations in the context of serious accident prevention. This could take the form of a partnership charter (or guide) that is shared by all parties.

For their part, trade union organisations have established (or will establish) a position paper on the question of serious accident prevention.