A Case Study in Accident Investigation – Piper Alpha


I first posted this blog link in 2009. The video clips that it links to catalogue the disaster that occurred on the North Sea Piper Alpha rig on 6th July 1988. 167 men died. It is a fascinating and sobering document that shows, if nothing else, how a combination of apparently individually innocuous failings contributed to a cataclysmic and devastating failure in the management of safety on that rig, with terrible human consequences. It remains Capable Blogs most consistently visited post.

The story has taken on added poignancy for me lately. During a couple of assignments with Chevron earlier in the year I was fortunate to meet a number of experienced North Sea workers who gave me some first hand insights into the course of events on that night. I met people who lost friends, and also people who were working on that night, but on neighbouring rigs. One of the most unnerving facts that came to light during our discussions was that those terrible events that occurred on that night on Piper Alpha could easily have happened on any of the other rigs on that Occidental network. The message for us all being that the lack of a disaster does not necessarily mean a sound safety system, it could just mean a run of good luck …

Here’s a link to the BBC’s excellent “A Fire in the night”



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2 Responses to A Case Study in Accident Investigation – Piper Alpha

  1. Rob says:

    This was part of a series at the time on high profile accidents and what could be learned from them. I think Kings Cross was on there too? The interesting thing for me is that, following The Cullen Inquiry, Occidental was found guilty of having inadequate maintenance and safety procedures but no criminal charges were ever brought against it

  2. admin says:

    Maybe one of those quirky situations where criminal charges are “not in the public interest”?

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