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Analyzing the psychology behind the safety statistics

Written by  OE Staff Tuesday, 22 August 2017 00:00

According to the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP), the majority of the 1484 fatal incidents reported over the last 20 years could have been prevented if the industry and its workforce had rigorously complied with the organization’s Life-Saving Rules1.

In 2015, the IOGP reported that over 70% of fatalities in that year could have been attributed to the industry failing to follow its rules. Newly-published data for 2016 shows only a slight improvement of 58%. Gordon Ballard, Executive Director, IOGP and SPE Offshore Europe 2017 Executive Committee member, said the impact of the market downturn is not an excuse. “Our data shows that there are no ‘new’ accidents; only failures to learn or to fully implement learnings from previous incidents. Some may want to pin these issues on squeezed margins, job uncertainty or doing the same - or more - with less. The data simply does not support that premise. The hard truth is that failing to follow the Life-Saving Rules should not be rationalized by market conditions.”

The latest figures show failures in training, competence, hazard identification, risk assessment, inattention, supervision and procedures have all led to fatal incidents occuring. IOGP is strengthening its efforts to discover the reasons behind the preventable fatalities by bolstering its Safety Committee and and appointing senior safety leaders from some of the largest oil and gas companies to oversee Committee activities.

“As was done when the Life-Saving Rules were initially launched in 2013, IOGP is re-investigating which aspects of day-to-day workplace life will have the greatest impact in eliminating fatalities. This critical information will be used to deploy the most effective means to raise awareness of activities that are most likely to result in fatalities and modify worker and supervisor behaviours accordingly. As with the current Life-Saving Rules, the results of this project will determine simple actions individuals can take to protect themselves and others.”

Safety in the spotlight

SPE Offshore Europe 2017 will hold a panel discussion linking IOGP’s Life-Saving Rules with successful industry efforts. It will discuss the barriers to implementing learnings, including organizational and human factors, and suggest possible solutions to tackle complacency. Keynote speakers will include experts from IOGP and Shell as well as prominent organizational behavioural specialists.

IOGP has looked beyond the oil and gas industry for best practice in educating and maintaining a Life-Saving Rules doctrine. The aerospace sector, for example, demonstrates how standardized procedural and engineering enhancements across its industry can have a direct and profound effect on reducing fatal accidents and incidents. In contrast, oil and gas sector contractor employees are required to learn different procedures and “rules” for each client, even though the risks and safe operating practices are essentially the same.

“There are no quick fixes. While migrating towards a standard set of industry rules will improve understanding and compliance, particularly in multi-language and multi-cultural settings, it will take time to funnel through the system. Workers need to be united and engaged at all levels and buy into the safety culture. We need to act now to ‘organise out’ the risks we can’t ‘engineer out’. It all begins and ends with leadership and its their duty to change the mindset from an aspirationof zero fatalities to an expectation of zero fatalities.”

The Life-Saving Rules have been proven to save lives. Shell, for example, has seen a 75% reduction in fatalities and a 35% reduction in lost time injuries since its rules were introduced in 2009.

IOGP appreciates that implementing lessons learned from previous incidents and accidents is a challenge, particularly when companies are balancing many competing priorities. However, as the organization has made clear, the same types of incidents and accidents are killing people now as did more than a decade ago. The industry must grasp this unsettling fact and take responsibility to eliminate fatalities from all operations.

References

OGP Life-Saving Rules, report No.459, April 2013 (version 2) 

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