The APPEA Journal The APPEA Journal Society
Journal of the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA)

Golden safety rules: are they keeping us safe?

Samantha J. Fraser A C and Daryl Colgan B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A 125 Waddell Road, Bicton, WA 6157, Australia.

B 36 Wellesley Way, Samson, WA 6163, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email:

The APPEA Journal 57(1) 41-48
Accepted: 23 March 2017   Published: 29 May 2017


Golden safety rules (GSR) have been in existence for decades across multiple industry sectors – championed by oil and gas – and there is a belief that they have been effective in keeping workers safe. As safety programs advance in the oil and gas sector, can we be sure that GSR have a continued role? ERM surveyed companies across mining, power, rail, construction, manufacturing, chemicals and oil and gas, to examine the latest thinking about GSR challenges and successes. As we embarked on the survey, the level of interest was palpable; from power to mining it was apparent that companies were in the process of reviewing and overhauling their use of GSR. The paper will present key insights from the survey around the questions we postulated. Are GSR associated with a punitive safety culture, and have they outlived their usefulness as company safety cultures mature? Is the role of GSR being displaced as critical control management reaches new pinnacles? Do we comply with our GSR, and how do we know? Do our GSR continue to address the major hazards that our personnel are most at risk from? How do we apply our GSR with contractors, and to what extent do our contractors benefit from that? The paper concludes with some observations of how developments outside of the oil and gas sector provide meaningful considerations for the content and application of GSR for oil and gas companies.

Keywords: behavioural rules, critical control management, lifesaving rules.

Samantha J. Fraser is a Partner at Environmental Resources Management Australia Pty Ltd (ERM), where she leads health, safety and environmental (HSE) improvement programs with clients in oil and gas, mining, telecommunications, food and drink and other industry sectors. Throughout her 18 year career, Sam has worked on projects and operations in Europe, Africa, the Caspian and Australia. Her areas of expertise include critical control management, compliance management, audit and assurance, management systems development and streamlining, field-based coaching, training and competency development. Sam’s degree qualifications include First Class BAHons in Natural Sciences (Chemistry) from the University of Cambridge and Msc in Environmental Chemistry with Distinction from the University of Edinburgh.

During his 32 year career, Daryl Colgan has held roles operating chemical manufacturing plants, managing the environmental responsibilities and approvals for a chemical complex, consulting on safety and risk, implementing fatality prevention programs and as a Regulator in major hazards. Currently a senior safety and risk consultant with Environmental Resources Management Australia Pty Ltd (ERM), Daryl delivers risk, health, safety and environmental improvements with clients in the oil and gas, mining, chemical manufacture, consumer products and other industry sectors. His areas of expertise include audit and assurance, safety study development (techniques including HAZID, HAZOP, Bow Ties, etc.), management system development and streamlining, and critical control management. One of his key interests is the monitoring of critical controls/barriers in both Safety Case regimes and in fatality prevention programs. Daryl’s qualification is BSc Hons (Chemistry) at UWA.


Aldrich, M., Ramsden, M., Steer, R., and Hamilton, I. (2015). Golden Rules to Improve Process Safety Behaviour. Paper prepared for presentation at Society of Petroleum Engineers, Annual Caspian Technical Conference & Exhibition held in Baku, Azerbaijan, 4–6 November 2015.

Bryden, R., Gradinger, S., Dick, N., and Paul, T. (2016). Re-Energising the Life-Saving Rules. Paper prepared for presentation at the SPE International Conference and Exhibition on Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Social Responsibility held in Stavanger, Norway, 11–13 April 2016.

Dekker, S.W.A., and Breakey, H. (2016). ‘Just culture’: Improving safety by achieving substantive, procedural and restorative justice. Safety Science 85, 187–193.
‘Just culture’: Improving safety by achieving substantive, procedural and restorative justice.CrossRef |

Hudson, P.T.W., Parker, D., Lawton, R., and v d Graaf, G.C. (2002). Managing non-compliance: Moving from theory to practice. In Proceedings 6th SPE International Conference on Health Safety and Environment in Oil and Gas Exploration and Production. Society of Petroleum Engineers.

International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) (2013). OGP Life-Saving Rules, Report No. 459, April 2013 (Version 2). Available at: [Verified 28 March 2017].

International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM). (2015a). Critical Control Management Implementation Guide. Available at: [Verified 28 March 2017].

International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM). (2015b). Health and Safety Critical Control Management Good Practice Guide. Available at: [Verified 28 March 2017].

Export Citation