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Safety is critical to our ability to deliver energy responsibly. We develop and operate our projects and facilities with the aim of preventing incidents that may harm our employees and contractors or nearby communities, or cause environmental impact. If incidents do occur, we put well-prepared plans into action immediately to deal with them.

The public, regulators, our employees and our contractors expect us to deliver energy and products safely and responsibly. Safety remains our top priority, and a core value in the way we operate. Our goal is to have zero fatalities and no incidents that harm our employees, contractors or neighbours, or put our facilities at risk. We continue to improve the safety of the people who work for us and our facilities. In 2011, however, we experienced several incidents that reinforced the need to stay vigilant and to maintain our focus on the safety of our operations.

If an incident does occur, we act swiftly to minimise its impact. We also investigate such incidents to learn lessons that can help us improve our safety performance. In 2011, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo) experienced a major leak offshore during the loading of an oil tanker. There was also a large fire at our Singapore refinery and a pipeline leak in the North Sea off the UK. In each case the rapid and effective response of staff, working with local authorities, prevented serious injury and limited impact on the environment (see Case study: Preventing incidents).

We manage safety through rigorous processes and by embedding a safety culture in our daily lives. We have a set of standards in place that all our operations must follow. They cover the areas of health, safety, security, environment and social performance (HSSE & SP). Our global standards define the operational controls and physical barriers that we require – for example, in a deep-water well – to prevent incidents. All Shell companies, Shell-operated joint ventures and our contractors must manage safety in line with the Shell Commitment and Policy on HSSE & SP, local laws and the terms of relevant permits and approvals.

Everyone working for us, and joint ventures we operate, must follow our safety rules, intervene in unsafe situations, and respect our neighbours and the environment. Our continuing safety awareness programmes reinforce this approach. On our annual global Safety Day, employees and contractors take part in activities to raise their understanding of safety risks and how to manage them. We also encourage companies we contract with and joint ventures we do not control to embed a safety culture in their workforce.

Our safety record has significantly improved since the introduction of our mandatory 12 Life-Saving Rules in 2009. These focus on the highest risk areas in our daily activities, including working safely at heights and not speeding while driving. All employees and contractors who work for us must follow them. Road safety is one area where these rules have helped improve our performance.

We design, operate, inspect and maintain our equipment with safety as the top priority. The people who run our facilities are responsible for ensuring the safety and reliability of our operations. Shell has invested $6 billion in a programme to improve the safety of our oil and gas production facilities since 2006. In 2011 alone we invested $1 billion in the safety and reliability of our refineries, chemical plants and distribution facilities.