At the Hazards Asia Pacific process safety conference, safety expert, Trevor Kletz cited industry’s ‘macho culture’ as one of the main causes for recent accidents.

Kletz, an author on process safety and loss prevention stated at the recent event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, that senior management have been distracted and promoted a macho, ‘get stuck in approach’ which has contributed to recent accidents.

His comments were made before a 250 strong audience of chemical and process engineers at the Asian Pacific safety conference organised by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) and the Chemical Industries Council of Malaysia (CICM).

Kletz commented, “Many workers don’t see the need to follow all the rules or the permit-to-work procedures. Our job, they say, is to get stuck in and get the job done, not fill in forms. In time this macho approach becomes the local custom and practice.”

However Kletz discouraged people from laying blame at the feet of senior management. He added, “It’s easy to point the finger at the management and assume that a culture of cutting corners started at the top… It is worth remembering that the same culture can also originate at the bottom, driven by the desire to get the job done. The task of management is to know this and make sure it’s done properly.”

Kletz, a Fellow of IChemE, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Royal Academy of Engineering, was unable to attend the event in person, but IChemE director of policy and communication Andrew Furlong delivered the speech in lieu.

Furlong said that Kletz’s powerful message will have left some audience members uncomfortable but his points were valid: “Industry leaders must recognise that a workplace culture which is entirely ‘production focused’ places lives at risk.$quot;