15 November 2001 15:39 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (CNI)--The UK government's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) confirmed on Thursday it will be heavily involved in monitoring safety issues as BP cuts up to 1000 jobs at its Grangemouth, Scotland, refinery and petrochemicals complex.
Unions raised concerns over the safety of the plant's operations under a reduced workforce and local MP Michael Connarty called for "a safe and transparent restructure".
However, principal inspector at the HSE Alistair McNab said: "If it is professionally managed there is no reason why the restructure will have any implications. That's the challenge."
BP announced on Monday plans to cut 40% of its 2500 workforce at Grangemouth over the next two years and close one of the site's older high density polyethylene (hdPE) plants.
The HSE works in partnership with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) in closely monitoring the BP site. Over the years its involvement has grown following several incidents at the site and due to increased legislation for sites classed as major hazards.
McNab said: "If the safety organisation is aware of any deficiencies in safety it has the power to prohibit the de-manning process."
However, McNab praised BP for its co-operation with safety agencies and suggested that BP is committed to becoming world class in terms of its safety.
He told CNI that there are many refineries in the world which operate safely with less people. He said: "There's no workload formula in the world that says how many people you need."
BP and the agencies are involved in planning to improve safety and the HSE said BP will need to resubmit an amended safety plan to account for the reduction in staff, which will need to be ratified by the safety agencies.
At least three meetings between the HSE and BP are scheduled to take place before the end of November in which safety implications of the de-manning process will be discussed in more depth.
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