WORLD: Workforce deaths at Shell higher than for other western oil groups

Publisher Name: 
Financial Times

Royal Dutch Shell last year suffered more workforce deaths than any
other large western oil company, with a rate of fatalities twice as
high as BP's.

The figures, compiled by the Financial Times from
company reports, follow renewed focus on Shell's safety record after it
was prosecuted in a case that last week resulted in some of the highest
fines imposed on companies operating in the North Sea.

Two
employees and 28 contractors were killed working for Shell in 2007,
compared with three employees and four contractors for BP, and eight
contractors for ExxonMobil.

The companies are roughly comparable
in size, but Shell has a bigger workforce, with 104,000 employees at
the end of last year, compared with 98,000 for BP and 81,000 for Exxon.

Differences
in organisational structure and operations account for some of the
variation in reported deaths between companies. But even using a
strictly comparable measure of workforce deaths per 100m hours worked,
Shell's death rate was more than twice that of BP last year. Shell's
overall safety performance, as measured by reported injuries per
million work hours, was slightly better than BP's, but it has for years
suffered a higher fatality rate than its peers.

In 2005, the year of the explosion at BP's Texas City refinery, which killed 15 people, Shell suffered more workforce deaths.

One
reason is that Shell operates in some particularly dangerous countries,
including Nigeria. Nine of last year's deaths were in Nigeria, with two
people killed in attacks on Shell facilities, and 10 in Russia.

The
number of fatalities was significantly lower than the 43 recorded in
2006, and Shell's death rate has fallen sharply in the past decade: it
lost 67 people in 1997.

Shell said: "We are deeply saddened by
these losses. Of these fatalities, 17 happened in our upstream
business, mainly on the roads, or at high-risk locations like Nigeria,
where two lives were lost due to assaults and a third died as a result
of a fire caused by criminals stealing oil from a pipeline."

Last
week Shell and Amec, the oil services and engineering group, were each
fined £150,000 for a case brought by the UK's Health and Safety
Executive after the death of an Amec employee working on a Shell
installation in the southern North Sea.

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