BP's safety record has been called into question, including a 2005 explosion at a Texas City refinery. The Wall Street Journal quoted Jordan Barab, a deputy assistant secretary of labor at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, who said, "there is a systemic safety problem across the company."
Hayward said the company has improved its safety record.
"I think we have made enormous strides as a company in the last three-four years with a remorseless focus on safe and reliable operations," Hayward said.
BP is now concentrating on stopping the leak and cleaning the spill, he said.
"We are clearly focused on minimizing the overall impact," Hayward said Monday. "We are a big company and we intend to deal with this. We take this responsibility incredibly seriously. We absolutely will prevail and we will deal with it."
The Associated Press and ABC News' Jeffrey Koffman, Ryan Owens, Ayana Harry and Sunlen Miller contributed to this report.