Monday, March 20, 2006

More On Lord Browne's Very Bad (If Not Unprofitable) Year At BP

I'm not the only one who feels sorry for Lord John Browne, Chief Executive of British Petroleum who had his 2005 bonus cut because his company killed 15 workers at BP's Texas City refinery last March. The Houston Chronicle's business columnist Loren Steffy also feels for the guy.

As I wrote yesterday, Brown pulled down a cool $11.2 million last year, a significant raise over the $10 million he made the year before. But, as Steffy notes, his bonus was cut by almost $1 million due to the unfortunate events in Texas City:
That'll teach him.

Browne, by the way, is still ignoring my interview request, which I first made almost a year ago.

The problem is that Browne and other BP executives have spent the past year pledging their commitment to safety, to fixing the problems that caused last year's explosions.

Once again, BP says one thing and does another.
Steffy interviews Tara Hart, chief executive of the Houston-based Compliance Alliance, which develops workplace safety programs.
[Hart] convinced an industrial company to set up a suggestion box and allow employees to anonymously submit safety problems and possible solutions. In the first month, a senior vice president tried to analyze the handwriting to determine who wrote them. Workers stopped making suggestions when they realized management was using them for retaliation.

Workers, Hart says, know what the safety problems are. More companies should encourage them to speak up.


Hart hopes the government, the public, and corporate executives will begin to take notice.

"We don't have a demand at the top," she says. "It's really management that sets the culture and the pace and the response to safety."

When that management gets a 12 percent raise after presiding over the worst refinery accident in almost two decades, it's pretty clear what kind of response that is.