2007 - 2021

David Whyte – 30 Years On: Piper Alpha and What We Should have Learned Before Grenfell

‘Workers paid the price of a system which allowed companies to self-regulate. We see this all over Grenfell.’

30 years ago today the Piper Alpha oil rig in the North sea exploded killing 167 people. We talk to Corruption expert David Whyte about the parallels with Grenfell…


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  1. Willie says:

    The self regulation aspect of safety certification is all part of the culture introduced by Thatcher all those years ago.

    Grenfell may be one example which is current but it is by no means the only one.

    The walls of schools falling down is another manifestation. Or what of the Herald of Free Enterprise sailing with open doors to save time and money.

    So who checks the checker. Or is the checker checking himself enough as Grenfell et al is showing.

    Indeed in relation to fire safety, folks may be astounded to learn that industry is allowed under BS 8414to test burn up to ten mock up trial panels to test their resistance to fire.

    Being erected under test conditions where every piece of firestop is meticulously fixed, as opposed to site conditions, a failling trial panel can be tested up to ten times to achieve the single pass needed to deem the cladding suitable

    So if a particular system fails nine times before passing on the tenth, folks can do the maths as to what odds such a particular system offers.

    Much of the testing regime is also influenced by industry insurers, who if I am not mistaken, actuarially look back to how things have or have not performed.

    And that I am afraid is where we are now. With over eighty dead and a legacy of substandard buildings across the country we now have the wail about we need an enquiry to find out how this happened.

    Thatcher and her kind were bang on – weren’t they. They knew who was best placed to bear risk. And these folk are now in the ascedency.

    But that I suppose is what we voted for.

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