By John Donovan of

As is plain from the Wikipedia article Royal Dutch Shell safety concerns, Shell has an appallingly bad track record in relation to protecting the safety of its employees. Shell’s notorious “Touch Fuck All” safety culture resulted in the deaths of Shell offshore employees in an explosion on the Brent Bravo North Sea platform, and a huge fine imposed on Shell by the Scottish courts.

Bill Campbell, the former Health and Safety Group Auditor of Shell International has campaigned against what he considers to be criminal negligence by Shell management in putting profits before safety. He has written to every UK Member of Parliament.

The Wikipedia article cites many pledges by senior Shell management to address Shell’s abysmal safety record.

On 31 August 2007, The Guardian newspaper published an article profiling Jeroen van der Veer (above), the Fat Cat Chief Executive of Royal Dutch Shell Plc. The article by Guardian journalist Terry Macalister stated in reference to Van der Veer: “He also makes clear he was hurt by the coverage of another fiasco – when a Shell consultant, Bill Campbell, blew the whistle on safety breaches in the North Sea.”

The admittance’s of wrongdoing and being stung by criticism, makes the news published recently on the London Fire Brigade website even more astonishing. Under the headline: “Shell fined record sum for fire safety breaches”, a press release reports that Shell International has received a record-breaking fine of £300,000 plus £45,000 in costs after pleading guilty to serious breaches of fire safety regulations. That’s over $550,000 USD.

The safety lapses at the Shell Centre in London were so severe that the London Fire Brigade served a prohibition notice on Shell which restricted the use of the building. Assistant Commissioner Steve Turek said;

“Shell failed to respond properly to their risk assessment for three and a half years and had it not been for the fires which led to the inspection, it could have been considerably longer. Had Shell acted upon the findings of the 2003 risk assessment at the time, they would have avoided putting their staff at risk.”

Sentencing of Shell International Limited took place at Inner London Crown Court on 2 June 2009 after Shell pleaded guilty to three breaches of safety regulations.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Shell senior execs should spend time dealing with employee safety issues rather than devoting it to inflating and trying to defend Fat Cat pay packages, including unearned bonus payments and grossly inappropriate pension pots. Unfortunately, greed wins out over the lives of mere employees.

Some of the above are extracts from the London Fire Brigade Press Release. There are also extracts from the Wikipedia article.

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