Steve Rae to give Trevor Kletz lecture

Article by Adam Duckett

Oil & Gas UK
Steve Rae: never feel that you can't make a difference

PIPER Alpha survivor Steve Rae will share the story of how his survival has led to a lifelong drive to improve safety culture in the oil and gas industry in a lecture at the annual IChemE Hazards 30 conference.

Rae, Executive Director at Step Change in Safety, was one of the survivors of the Piper Alpha oil platform explosion in the North Sea on 6 July 1988 that killed 167 people.

His career in the industry began in the early 1980s working as an Offshore Technician on many North Sea installations, including Piper Alpha. Having survived the tragic incident, Rae chose to continue working in the industry where he went on to become an accomplished executive.

At the conference, Rae will deliver the Trevor Kletz Lecture – created to honour the memory of the pioneer of process safety. Rae will share his survival story and explain why he dubs the incident a “predictable surprise”.

Rae said: “Through my career I have come to realise that our ability to deliver safe operations is intrinsically linked to the values, beliefs, behaviours and work practices that we, our work colleagues, supervisors and managers choose to adopt. As such it’s by personal choice that we either chose to intervene or chose to look the other way. I encourage everyone working in process safety to make your choices like the lives of your loved ones depend on them; and never feel that you can’t make a difference.”

Rae was a member of the UK Step Change in Safety Leadership Team from 2007–2011 and chaired Statoil’s Aiming High Group in Brazil from 2014–2015. He also held a number of high-profile positions, including Operations Manager at Noble Drilling, Vice President International Drilling Operations at Seawell, and Vice President QHSE at Archer – The well company.

Hazards 30 – IChemE’s annual process safety conference – takes place on 18–20 May 2020 at Manchester Central Convention Complex, Manchester, UK.

Trish Kerin, Director, IChemE Safety Centre, said: “Steve Rae’s personal determination to improve our process safety practices across industries around the world in order to help stop incidents like Piper Alpha from ever happening again is what makes him an everyday hero. I’m looking forward to learning from his unique insights in the Trevor Kletz Lecture.”

The programme will also feature a panel discussion by leading industry experts, focussed on the process safety lessons learned over the 60 years since the Hazards series began. Joining Rae and Kerin on the panel are top industry leaders, including Maureen Wood from the Major Accident Hazards Bureau (MAHB), a special unit in Italy dedicated to assisting the European Commission in its efforts to prevent potential major industrial accidents.

Jo Nettleton, Deputy Director, Radioactive Substances and Installations Regulation at the Environment Agency, UK, and Margaret Donnan, Chair of the IChemE Safety Centre Advisory Board, Australia, will also give keynote speeches.

For more information on Piper Alpha, including a personal perspective written by Rae, visit our Piper Alpha Perspectives series that was published on the disaster’s 30th anniversary.

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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