Our approach to safety

Safety is central to the responsible delivery of energy. We aim to do no harm to people and to have no leaks across our operations. We call this our Goal Zero ambition.

We expect everyone working for Shell only to start work when all required safety measures are in place and to intervene when anything appears unsafe or conditions change.

We investigate incidents and aim to learn from them, sharing findings to improve safety performance across our organisation and our industry.

Socially-distanced workers at a site in the US. (photo)

Shell staff in the USA practice social distancing for a briefing as part of efforts to stay safe in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We help all Shell employees and contractors to comply with our safety standards and requirements, including our mandatory Life-Saving Rules. We discuss dilemmas, share ideas and learn together how rules and procedures apply in the context of our work.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we took additional steps to make workplaces safe for staff and contractors, for example, supporting our business partners to set up extra accommodations for frontline contractors to allow for greater social distancing.

Refreshing our safety approach

In 2020, we started what is expected to be a multi-year effort to refresh our approach to safety for all employees and contractors. This followed a review that considered the effectiveness of preventative tools, such as the Life-Saving Rules, and our Goal Zero ambition.

Since the early 2000s, these tools have helped strengthen our safety culture and performance, but we have not been able to sustainably eliminate all fatal incidents involving Shell employees or contractors.

We are now implementing our new approach with a more consistent focus across the organisation on the way people, culture, equipment, work systems and processes all interact. The majority of our fatalities over the last five years were down to the interaction between these elements.

We encourage people to spend more time in teams reflecting on and improving their understanding of the gap between how we anticipate work will be safely carried out and what happens in reality. We continue to work to prevent incidents through maintaining safety barriers and training, but acknowledge that people can make mistakes and processes can fail. We are taking steps to help people make more considered decisions about risks and prevent harm when things do not go as planned. We want to get to a place where even if there is an incident, our people emerge unhurt.

Embracing a “learner mindset”

Our new approach centres on people being open to learn, both from things that went well and from their mistakes, and confidently sharing ideas and concerns with colleagues. Being open in this way means mistakes are reported quickly so action can be taken. Teams that embrace this learner mindset can more easily identify better ways to manage safety risks. We are also updating our various systems and controls to enable people to more effectively identify and address potential safety incidents. This means, for example, strengthening the way work is planned by having more in-depth discussions before, during and after tasks to identify and implement improvements.

In 2020, we provided training for leaders throughout Shell to help them understand and explore the learner mindset and behaviours they need to adopt. The training focused on systems and conditions that influence their team decisions, as well as the effectiveness of protective barriers.

Practical changes in 2020 under our refreshed safety approach included:

  • announcing plans to move from our Life-Saving Rules to the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers Life-Saving Rules, which include a new rule that focuses on keeping people out of the line of fire;
  • replacing our metric for Total Recordable Case Frequency (TRCF) with a new metric for Serious Incidents and Fatalities Frequency (SIF-F) that will take effect from 2021. This will enable us to measure our performance and help us better understand those instances where we have not been able to prevent significant harm; and
  • launching an online portal with learning materials related to our refreshed approach to safety, which we made available to contractors and suppliers.

Personal safety performance

In 2020, Shell had the safest year it has ever experienced. It was the first year with zero fatal injuries, and also the strongest ever process safety performance at ventures operated by Shell.

Fatal accident rate (FAR) [A]

Number per 100 million hours

Fatal accident rate (FAR) (We have updated some of our historical figures following a review of the data.) – number per 100 million hours: 2011: 1.0; 2012: 1.3; 2013: 0.8; 2014: 0.7; 2015: 1.1; 2016: 0.5; 2017: 0.4; 2018: 0.4; 2019: 1.4; 2020: 0.0 (line chart)

[A] We have updated some of our historical figures following a review of the data.

Our fatal accident rate – the number of fatalities per 100 million working hours – decreased to 0 in 2020 compared with 1.4 in 2019.

Total recordable case frequency (TRCF)

Number per million hours

Total recordable case frequency (TRCF) – number per million hours: 2011: 1.2; 2012: 1.3; 2013: 1.2; 2014: 1.0; 2015: 0.9; 2016: 1.0; 2017: 0.8; 2018: 0.9; 2019: 0.9; 2020: 0.7 (line chart)

In 2020, the number of injuries per million working hours – the total recordable case frequency (TRCF) – was 0.7, compared with a 2019 of 0.9.

The number of recordable injuries decreased by around 35% in 2020 compared with 2019, which was partly due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 restrictions meant that many staff members were working from home, fewer people were able to travel on Shell business and many of our work activities, including higher-risk ones, were reduced or carried out differently.

Lost time injury frequency (LTIF)

Number per million hours

Lost time injury frequency (LTIF) – number per million hours: 2011: 0.4; 2012: 0.3; 2013: 0.4; 2014: 0.3; 2015: 0.3; 2016: 0.3; 2017: 0.2; 2018: 0.3; 2019: 0.3; 2020: 0.2 (line chart)

The level of injuries that led to time off work in 2020 decreased to 0.2 compared with 0.3 in 2019.

For details of Shell’s 2020 safety performance and remuneration outcomes, see the Directors’ Remuneration Report in our Annual Report.

HSSE & SP Control Framework

The Control Framework defines mandatory standards, requirements and accountabilities. The framework applies to Shell entities and Shell-operated ventures, including employees and contractor staff.

Mandatory manuals describe:

  • Purpose of the manual
  • Accountabilities and responsibilities
  • Scope
  • Requirements to be met
  • Leadership and commitment
  • Policy and objectives
  • Organisation, responsibilities and resources
  • Planning and procedures
  • Permit to work
  • Managing risk
  • Management of change
  • Emergency response
  • Spill preparedness and response
  • Incident investigation and learning
  • Performance monitoring and reporting
  • Joint venture HSSE & SP management
  • Asset integrity
  • Design and engineering
  • Wells
  • Process safeguarding systems
  • Risk assessment
  • Security plans
  • Use of force
  • Voluntary principles on security and human rights
  • risk
  • The contractor company’s HSSE management system, capability and resources
  • Alcohol and drugs
  • Fitness to work
  • Health hazard management
  • Fatigue risk management
  • Human factors engineering
  • Worker welfare
  • Biodiversity
  • Greenhouse gas and energy management
  • Soil and groundwater
  • Volatile organic compounds
  • Water
  • Flaring and venting
  • Ozone-depleting substances
  • Sulphur Oxides (SOx) and Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)
  • Waste
  • Risks of existing and new products
  • Animal testing
  • Information on handling of products
  • Impact assessment
  • Stakeholder engagement plan
  • HSSE & SP risks and mitigation
  • Business travel
  • Company-sponsored events
  • Diving and tunnelling operations
  • Excavation
  • Ionising radiation
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Working at height
  • Cleaning of storage tanks
  • Confined space work
  • Electrical safety
  • Hot work
  • Lifting and hoisting
  • Safe isolation
  • Community engagement
  • Social impacts and benefits
  • Social investment
  • Community feedback mechanism
  • Involuntary resettlement
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Cultural heritage
  • Air transport
  • Rail transport
  • Maritime safety
  • Driver safety
  • Professional driver safety

Sheet of paper (icon) Shell Commitment and Policy on Health, Security, Safety, the Environment and Social Performance

total recordable case frequency
View complete glossary
health, safety, security, environment and social performance
View complete glossary
health, safety, security and environment
View complete glossary