BP is to change its employees’ performance-related pay structure for the rest of this year to make the progress of safety improvements the most important determinant.

Bob Dudley, chief executive at the oil giant, has told staff in a company-wide email that the sole criterion for judging performance in the last quarter of this year would be “each business’s progress in reducing operational risks and achieving excellent safety and compliance standards”.

While the portion of bonus payments that refers to the first three quarters of this year, accrued using mainly financial measures, will still apply, the change to make the fourth quarter entirely safety-dependent will mean there is a much stronger emphasis on this element in the final payments. The firm is also reviewing the way it pays its bonuses in the longer term, including its executive bonus plan.

According to BP’s last annual report, only 15 per cent of the company’s bonus accounted for by safety measures compared to 70 per cent for financial and operational measures.

BP is seeking to rebuild its reputation in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, which killed 11 employees and caused the worst oil spill in history in the Gulf of Mexico.

Since replacing Tony Hayward as chief executive last month, Dudley has created a new division in charge of safety that has wide-ranging powers to intervene in operations across the business.