B.S. Dhillon, CRC Press (, £95 hardback, £66.50 eBook

Safety and Reliability in the Oil and Gas Industry – a Practical Approach

Professor of engineering management at the University of Ottawa, Dr B.S. Dhillon’s stated intention is “… to combine safety and reliability in the oil and gas industry into a single volume, eliminate the need to consult a number of different and diverse sources in obtaining desired information and provide up-to-date information on the subject”.




I doubt that this ambition is achievable in today’s fast-moving world, and it certainly is not met by the pedestrian contents of this fairly slim book. To start with, overall coverage of the sector is patchy. For example, there’s nothing about pipelines, terminals or offshore helicopters – a specific area where reliability is always a sensitive issue for passengers. Several pages are devoted to equations that underpin reliability theory, but there are no examples of how to use the output data to aid practical decision-making. Although the book contains many lists of facts, it is hard to derive any insights from them.

Safety is treated as a single generic issue, with no explanation of the similarities and differences between system (or process) safety and personal safety. There is no coverage of how to select and design systems to prevent, control and mitigate risks, nor of how to judge when residual risk is acceptable (i.e. the ALARP decision). Similar judgements are required for the reliability of production-critical systems, and these are not mentioned either.

The index also fails to include key references that are indispensable for a book with such ambitions. For instance, there’s no mention of management systems; safety cases; performance standards for safety and environmentally-critical elements; competencies that support safe and reliable operations; bow-tie analysis; consequence modelling of major releases (to help optimise both facility design and emergency response planning); and operations in remote locations. The omission of these references and many others, shows that this single volume is definitely not up-to-date.

Useful sources of information are listed in chapter 1.4 and learned journal papers in an 11-page bibliography. However, neither list mentions any publications by Andrew Hopkins and James Reason, by regulators such as HSE, PSA or industry bodies such as IOGP, IPIECA or EI – though some older IOGP publications are covered in the subsidiary references for each chapter. For the organisations listed in section 1.4.6, postal addresses are provided rather than websites, which is not very helpful for the modern professional.

The only redeeming feature I could find is that a few accidents that are new to me are listed. However, because they are brief descriptions with no mention of any "lessons learned", I don’t feel that they really add much value for the reader.


Ian is the Offshore Group communications co-ordinator and also secretary of POOSH Scotland, a coordinating group for OSH-related professional bodies that encourages joint initiatives and sharing of best practices. Ian joined IOSH in 1980 and has been a chartered Fellow since 2005. He has been active as an IOSH volunteer since the early 1980s, has served as a branch and group chair, was on Council for 20 years and was President in 1999-2000. He has chaired a number of IOSH committees and working parties, authored IOSH guides, was a Trustee from 2005-2009 and received a President’s Distinguished Service Certificate in 2010.

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