Top-down safety culture fails to address human needs

Oilfield safety culture has come a long way since the ground breaking recommendations of the 1990 Cullin Report that followed the Piper Alpha disaster. But safety today is bogged down in a top-down dictatorial mentality which is not keeping up with how increasing systems automation and complexity is affecting the needs of our workers.

Social critic Herbert Spencer famously wrote over a century ago that : “The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly, is to fill the world with fools.”

The nanny state’s blame culture is a root cause of safety over-regulation. Countries need laws that make citizens responsible for their own actions. If while at work you have been to ladder safety school, and you used a certified ladder and you fell off, then you must share some of the blame.

Some regulations require operators to follow so many mind-numbingly dull procedures that people eventually lose concentration and make a mistake anyway.

Safety regulators need to find a certain happy medium between personal initiative and rigid adherence to procedures. The need to continually find such a medium is worse than not understood, it is too often totally ignored. Rig roughnecks and roustabouts repeat the same the procedure over again for 12 hours straight without mistake, partly because the type of work has enough mix of eye, hand, foot and body movement to keep their mind occupied.

But cheap sensors bought with them today’s modern systems, which are hard wired back to a central control room, where systems operators no longer have a chance to patrol the plant; they must sit still in one spot, staring into computer screens for hours at a time. Physical movement has become a forbidden luxury. Lack of exercise and movement causes the body’s lymph fluids to stagnate; little understood toxins back up into the liver and then into the mind. Dull repetition causes the chair bound operator’s attention to wander off. Fatigue and boredom sets in. Regulatory bodies and control room designers show few signs of awareness that they should be taking these second order human effects into account.

The soul is made for action, and cannot rest till it be employed. Idleness is its rust.” – Robert Townsend, Up the Organization.

A certified safety officer is a person with authority to influence how work is performed. To qualify, he must demonstrate an extensive knowledge of the safety related rules, regulations and job assessment procedures required by the likes of OSHA in the US or NEBOSH in the UK. While some parts of the syllabus contain useful information about how to assess risk, too much of the safety curriculum concentrates on showing knowledge of the exact names and section numbers of various workplace safety rules and laws. Without expressly saying so, safety certificate exams reward those who demonstrate a narrow legalistic knowledge of the rules, a mentality which is sadly reflected in the outlook of too many safety officers on today’s jobsites.

Safety officers who think like leaders personally engage participants in reviews of workplace rules and procedures. Leaders know that people want a sense of control of their work environment. Workers don’t want top-down edicts telling them how they MUST conduct their work, to be announced by a memo stuck on a notice board. Work procedures should be constantly questioned, reviewed and modified. Because nobody is more familiar with a procedure than the person who performs it every day, we should harness the knowledge of our workplace participants, when we design the flow of work.

The following ten human workplace needs can serve as a work procedure checklist:
– empathy with the operation,
– a sense of self-efficacy with the procedure
– communication with team members
– optimism about the outcome of the job
– self-motivation to do better
– self-esteem that the job is worthwhile
– self-monitoring of the value of his contribution
– a sense of belonging to the team
– a sense of cohesiveness with the group
– self-awareness of the participant’s status and position.

System operators who lack a sense of control over their work task environment easily get bored and lose interest in their duties (even mission critical ones).

Once employees feel challenged, invigorated and productive, their efforts will naturally translate into profit and growth for the organisation.” Richard Semler Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace.

In November 2010 an Airbus A380, Qantas flight 32, upon takeoff from Singapore Changi Airport, suffered a violent engine turbine disk disintegration that ruptured fuel tanks, hydraulic controls and data cableways. Instead of the normal flight deck crew of three, QF32 had 5 senior pilots on board that day and even so, it took this team of experienced aviators over an hour to decode the flood of alarms coming from busted systems, before they could reach a point that they had enough data to decide to attempt an emergency overweight landing. Systems complexity nearly got the better of one of commercial aviation’s most experienced flight crews.

Oil production operations manager Larry Ginther commented on our January 2016 Oilpro article Three Sensible Safety Trends We Would Like To See about an oil company he once worked for:
“.. that liked to proceduralize everything. Every time there was an incident, instead of holding someone accountable for their actions they wrote a new procedure. Before long it took two 4″ ring binders to hold their safety manual .. ”

Here is a dilemma faced by those who draft safety rules which tend to reward dumb, docile obedience. At what point do safety rules no longer “shield men from folly”? Should there be limit on the size of safety manuals? No more than 5kg, or maybe no thicker than 4.5 inches?

Twenty six years before that flood of unexpected concurrent events came close to overwhelming QH32’s flight crew, Yale sociologist Charles Perrow had argued in his 1984 book “Normal Accidents: Living with High-Risk Technologies” that high tech systems are now so complex that every possible failure cannot be anticipated. Perrow’s Normal Accident Theory argues that occasional catastrophic failures are inevitable, saying that complexity tends to require complex systems be managed in such an authoritarian top-down way, that systems engineers tend to write too-rigid procedures. When operators are busy managing an unforeseen event, rigid rules get in the way. In other words, NEBOSH and OSHA certification has produced a generation of safety rule makers unable to address Perrow’s observations. Too many OSHA inspired safety rules do little more than crudely imply that when something goes wrong, somebody has to be blamed.

Big corporations like to send their employees to outward bound type incentive weekends, where soft office workers are put into positions of perceived danger, where they must draw on their own physical resources to avoid hurting themselves. e.g. walking on a high rope obstacle course or paddling kayaks in choppy seas. People nearly always survive these adventures without injury because we know that humans inherently look after their own survival. Ordinary people perform seemingly hazardous tasks quite consistently, but only so long as they are fresh, attentive, NOT tired or distracted and focused on performing only one task at a time. A goal of such adventure training is to let participants gain confidence in themselves.

We still today train fairly soft oil and gas process operators in some pretty wild fire fighting skills, based on the known fact that the best chance of defeating a petrochemical plant fire happens within 5 minutes and the only people available that fast are the operators. So they get to do fire fighting school, where they enter totally dark confined spaces on fire, using a fire hose spray nozzle to push back a thousand degree flame front and sometimes even practice rescuing victims in smoke blackened darkness. The training is dangerous. But by carefully controlling the external factors, inexperienced people can learn to perform extraordinary tasks in ways that ensures that nobody gets hurt.

In short, well rested alert humans can manage risky situations, so long as a third event doesn’t distract them. There are many dynamic work situations not covered by the rule book: derrickmen hooking up heavy choke and kills hoses to the marine riser of a floating drill rig in high seas, or fishermen handling nets in rough weather, crane operators on floating drill rigs loading pipe from wildly heaving boats in high seas. All face dynamic situations where skill, experience and judgement call for actions on a second by second basis.

Safety rules need to recognize this and not distract the man from focusing on doing his job because his work is governed by fear of becoming the object of a flood of blame emails.

We need to design work so that people on the job feel they have the authority and confidence to quickly adjust work to handle sudden concurrent events in the same way as the QF32 crew managed major distractions while keeping their focus on the main task at hand. It would also be helpful if the job description of safety officers made them available as a resource to assist when an unexpected concurrent incidents do suddenly occur. Sadly, what we too often observe during an unfolding incident, is a safety officer not jumping in to lend a hand, but standing off to one side, with his digital camera ready to photograph any digression from the rule book.

The problem starts with the too narrow focus of desk bound NEBOSH and OSHA rule writers, who need to get out their chairs into the real world of work where they can start applying their rule making theories to situations such as helping the AD hook up a 600 kilogram 5″ kill hose to the riser of a heaving drillship on a stormy night.

As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next the people hate…When the best leader’s work is done, the people say “We did it ourselves!”” – Lao-tzu

1 comment to Top-down safety culture fails to address human needs

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    David Cherbonnier · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 7
    Very relevant and well presented article. ‘Back in the day’, when I broke out on the drill floor the greatest motivator for safety was your job. If you got hurt, you caught the next boat and didn’t come back. You practiced safety to preserve your body parts and good health.
    Although removing obstacles is good their absence nourishes complacency. It’s also difficult to make things foolproof because they tend to be ingenious and there are so many of them

    Jackie Gillispie · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 6
    I can remember when the safety man’s job was to re-fill the eye glass cleaning tissues and re-fill the salt tablet dispensers in the dog house. That was about it.
    Show 5 More

    Ian Austin · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 2
    @JackieGillispie: I will argue against the over-proceduralization of anything. understand that a certain volume of procedure comes wit hthe territory. However, I beleive that when you treat people like they’re stupid, they’ll eventually become so.

    There needs to be a happy medium, allowing front line workers to use their brains

    Jackie Gillispie · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 4
    @IanAustin: There is no way in hell to sugar coat oilfield work. It is hard, it is nasty, more often than not bad weather comes with it. It is what it is. But the men and women who endure it and go home same way they came to work are the safest people I know. The most dangerous part of their jobs in the Permian Basin during the boom was driving to and from location.

    I will give a big shout out to the safety departments for implementing random drug/alcohol testing. I have zero tolerance for that on my locations.

    Ian Austin · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 2
    @JackieGillispie: Good points – the D&A testing is definitely one thing that one of my previous companies stood stead-fastly by, even when it made life more difficult with respect to finding employees from 2012 – 2014

    You’re correct, showing up impaired (of any kind) not only puts you, but also your coworkers, in danger – a much more damming charge in my mind

    Bob Page. COSS · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 6
    Guys, how about the “Safety Guy”, actually cares about his crews and their welfare! Until you have sat down in a room with the wife and family of one of your employees who did not follow procedure and paid the ultimate price for it, then forgive me for being brash with your comments. I have worked in Safety and Environmental for nearly 20 years and I do not dictate or try and control Operations, I listen to experience and knowledgeable employees daily and advise through counsel what might work in a proactive way rather than reactive. I respect every one of my team and would go the extra mile for them, what I can’t handle is stupid! I worked mostly refinery safety until 2012. I came North to ND and found out that I was in Dodge City before Wyatt Earp had arrived, acceptable practices here would have you and your company escorted from the plant back in the Gulf. Safety has come a long way, but with everyone being part of the team. Everyone is a Safety guy, take ownership and step up not just for the dollars but also maybe because you care! Safety guys are passionate about their profession and I for one care about safe practice and process!

    Jackie Gillispie · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 3
    Mr.Page: You would be the exception of the stereotype most of us refer to here. And I would be glad to have you on my location. Most of us have seen the millennial person who learned his safety stuff on you-tube and doesn’t know that field safety and checking boxes in his reports are two different things.

    Ian Austin · 13d ago · Reply · Like
    Bob, please don’t take to heart. Most of what I wrote above I should have prefaced with ‘this is a general comment’. There are many that are good-great at their jobs and truly do care. However, like in every other run of life, those add nowhere near as much value end up being the topic of conversation

    Fred Nicora · 12d ago · Reply · Like · 1
    Todays workforce is complex and I think it requires both a top down and bottom up approach. Many “on the front line” workers want to find faster easier ways to get things done which sometimes involves safety short cuts. Collaboration is essential to maximize production efficiencies in a safe manner.

    Lar Reitz · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 5
    How about this: let the guy who is making the rules shoulder up next to the people doing the real work at the well site. You learn a lot about what works and what doesn’t and get respect from the guys in the field.

    Curtis Stewart · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 5
    Management comes up with grand ideas such as no accidents or incidents. Any that happen will result in supervisors being demoted, bonus withheld or termination.

    Result is drop in reported actions. Pats on backs all around. Promotions for everyone involved. Two to three years later, odds catch up with current crop of managers and there is a spike in serious injuries. Maybe blow up a refinery oh, twice. More speeches threats and beatings. Again reports drop and things seem to be working well. More speeches, threats, demotions, bonus cuts to the workers and low level management then promotions, golden handshake retirements, things are going swimmingly. Ole Mr Murphy comes in to set and incidents start increasing and next thing you know the company has blown up a deep water offshore drilling rig and dumped chingles oil in a body of water.

    Just a little made up(sorta) story of a complete failure of upper management to fix a safety culture that was broke. But buddy let me tell you what. This made up company had binders full of safety policies and procedures.

    The only thing they had not done was instill in ONE person a culture where they had full company support if they shut a job down the ONE person thought was unsafe.

    All those pages and binders. All the bullshift from management. All the wasted manhours and resources. Because not ONE person involved in the situation believed any of it.

    If you work for a company that has a STOP WORK AUTHORITY program, find out how many times in the last year it has been used. No policies, procedures, training, or implementation needed. Just trust and belief from the person who will suffer they have support to stop an unsafe act.

    Sadly, most workers do not trust their supervisors or managers and they are right

    Roy Garden · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 4
    Those “Long in the tooth” tend to feel that safety departments have run riot in the oilfield and are now, and have been for some years, actually getting in the way. The youngsters don’t know any different and are quite genuinely horrified at what they perceive as a “Gung Ho” attitude in the old farts they work with. The airline industry has proceduralised just about every aspect of operation, checklists are rife, computers now fly aircraft and pilots are really only there to manage systems. This has led many pilots to bemoan the safety departments running riot in their industry too, leading to a very real reduction in pilots ability to actually fly aircraft by hand. But. There has recently passed a full year where no western airline has had an accident where people died (there were two CFIT incidents, but they were deliberate and not accidents) in a full calendar year. The procedures and engineering solutions work. Yes it has led to a de skilling of the “trade” of flying, but it is measurably safer year on year. In the oilfield, it feels like we are being de-skilled by the safety departments, but it looks to me like the business is getting safer. Throwing chain was fun back in the day, I bet those who are old enough to remember it are glad their sons / daughters don’t have to do it now . .

    What was perceived as fun and exciting in our youth is probably best left there. People left to their own devices break things and hurt people. When we didn’t know any better (in our youth) that was as good as it got. As long in the tooth old farts it is our responsibility to ensure that our experience is used to protect those coming through.

    Having said all that, I have no idea why 602 chicksan hasn’t been banned globally yet. Hands up anyone who hasn’t heard of an accident where it has been screwed into 1502 ?

    Gene Bell · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 3
    Gene Bell

    At the end of the day … Too many regulations to remember, too many procedures to proceed, and too narrow a view on safety performance will always lead to less real safety and more perceived safety. And that, in itself, is our number one safety hazard…. Even still this was a good read and hit the nail squarely on the head.

    Bob Williams · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 3
    I can remember when there wasn’t a Safety Man, very good article that makes important points. When people are not allowed to think for themselves it creates a environment that is not conducive to a safe work environment, it just promotes bad moral and poor productivity. It’s a lot easier to stand there and do nothing in the name of safety then to risk all that results from the possibility of an accident. I can go on and on about this, just wanted to say this is an excellent article. Hopefully some smart safety people can pick up on these ideals.

    Derek Harris · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 3
    Excellent article and also feed back. I worked on ships, AHV’s for 25 years then joined a semi for my first experience working as OIM, Marine Adviser and Safety Officer combined. My office had book case had over thirty Safety Manuals which I was expected to be very knowledgeable about. I had no training or briefing before joining and it was a big shock especially not knowing much about the drilling operations. As stated in the article about manuals, remember the Harold Free Enterprise the big passenger ro ro ship that capsized off France causing a huge loss of life. The Company said Procedures where not followed and were exonerated from blame. However, six managers went to jail for not making sure these procedures being implemented, its not good enough to produce procedures without making sure they are implemented.The Root Cause analysis usually end up with the blame on personnel management want somebody to blame and close the incident. Management always say they don’t any grudge, whom believes that? Almost every body believes in safety and works their best to do so, however, there are some stupid people and risk takers that cause incidents. Safety has improved greatly in the last twenty years on both sides. Now days a lot of paper work is involved with any job and can be consuming. Unfortunately it is difficult to fire or suspend unsafe workers because there are lawyers out there that win most cases for the individual. It is expensive so Management hold back, I had a worker whom had not followed safety guidelines and written policies, three times cause serious injury through stupidity. I was told to give more training and guidance. There is another issue that some companies issue Managers bonuses if they keep within budget, this causes delays with parts and supplies towards the end of the year. Six weeks to get light bulbs. I hear in Africa supplies take up to 3-4 months, which is ok if you have sufficient supplies. The Inventory’s have all be cut back by Accountants everywhere and this causes huge problems to avoid the dreaded down time. Down Time is the dreaded word on a rig, unfortunately I have seen safety procedures compromised (this came out afterwards),one OIM got into the safety harness to connect up the chock and kill lines in bad weather. Nobody would challenge him. Intimidation is a big part of the industry, although every body has the right to stop the job.There is a situation with OIM’s and Company Men being completely controlled by shore base, they have to check for approval for any changes big or small. I worked on a Salvage Tug and many incidents required to sign a document LOF however, the Captain’s would not sign without approval. Remember the tanker off France that ran aground, it could have been saved but Shore management would not sign up the Tugs standing by, weather came in and the Tanker broke up causing a massive oil spill problem. OIM’s are swamped with meetings and paperwork hardly get out of the office, also all the Safety Officers are swamped with paper work which restricts them from being on deck. Finally safety is common sense and has no room for stupid acts. Improving slowly as some Manage by intimidation leave Derek

    Ken Hovland · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 2
    Some very clear points are made – safety has to be a product of those doing the work. End of story.

    Craig Black · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 2
    A good read, a timely article given the state of the offshore Industry.

    It would seem that the boom time safety culture is already being re assessed, cost cutting is scything across every facet of the industry and what was considered safe practice 6 months ago, may now be just too expensive… Strange that Offshore Operational fields (many ageing) with agreed Inspection, Repair and Maintenance policies, that were mandatory less than 1year ago, now has budgetary pressures which are giving project managers headaches or worse are just being left unchecked or back dated, or worse; forgotten as redundancies leave “critical” and standard remedial works undone. Lets face it; the Industry is currently brushing safety and best practice under the carpet. Only the cheapest is now viable. Processes and systems that work and are safe and effective may now be difficult to implement due to budget constraints. The very “Nanny State” processes that “filled the world with fools” will now be unmonitored. The experienced and wise are reconsidering career paths and moving away from the industry. Hopefully the remaining fools will have enough personal initiative to understand and adhere to the policies and processes that have been implemented in the boom times. It seems this may be a dangerous time for anyone reliant on on going expenditure and investment to keep them safe. My time on old offshore rigs is thankfully over, If it was still a reality, I think I would be at home watching the calendar and dreading the thought of returning to my offshore rotation. Stay safe everyone..!

    Justin Jacobsen · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 2
    Great Read and excellent points!! As someone who has gone from a hand to sales to HSE, I find myself noticing several points you mention daily. I think because I’ve worked as a hand, I have a better perspective of our daily operations versus someone who has only read regulations in a book.

    In every industry in the world we have what I call “on paper vs. practical”. So many things look great on paper or in design software, but when it translates to the real world, it is in no way practical. A great case study of this is trying to change a headlight bulb on a GM truck from 2011-2016. You almost have to tear the front end apart to change a bulb. From sitting at a desk, we make lots of policies and decisions but never truly explore the consequences because so much is based on knee jerk reactions to incidents or budgets.

    The whole point of HSE programs and creating a safety culture is to keep everyone thinking and trying to make a safety conscious thought process a second nature to everyone. You can’t make policies so cumbersome that they hate them or it will never work. And you can’t stand over their shoulders and watch their every move. HSE’s job isn’t to bust people, its in place to create a culture where the guys behave the same whether they’re being watched or not. You can get them in better habits by letting them see they are being watched, but in my opinion, they respond better if you work alongside them and lead the way.

    Glenn Mondshine · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 2
    I have some steel toe, slip-proof, electric-proof shoes that are still not good enough for P-66. They want ankle protection in addition to all those things. It seems ridiculous unless I’m walking in a field with snakes or in some area with high levels of mechanical movement. It’s this one rule fits all policy which is a mistake. My shoes are very protective, yet I’m still not safe enough to go into a plant.

    Larry Barton · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 2
    A lot of what’s mentioned is good but being in this field I’ve noticed the ones writing the rules went to school to learn how to write rules,and have no idea what is really going on,there are those out there just looking for any easy pay day and ones that really like there job I have smashed fingers ruptured disks and never turned it in wanted to work for my pay and not blame it on anything or one.I learned the hard way in some things,and I am living with my choices huh ( can’t hear you) hearing protection was not even thought of 40 yrs ago. Safety is good don’t get name wrong but it’s turned into a political item and growing worse like our government. Ok start the comments and grief I’m sure to receive but I love my job!!!

    David Smith · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 2
    Well ladies and gentlemen, this is just my opinion, and based on comments to date, it isn’t going to be popular, but – Regulations are concepts – its is up to the individual company to create their own specifically tailored and functional program. HSE programs must absolutely be sanely managed (one program absolutely does not fit all needs – but only a mismanaged program does not include provision for controlled revision), but I question that this can be accomplished with other than a top down driven process. No employees were ever safe just because it was a good idea – it has always been because someone with the authority to enforce the process said “here is how we will do this work, regardless of anyone’s perception that its a waste of time, injuries are inevitable, or how they did it on the last episode of the “reality” drilling show you saw.” From the age of 1 to 44, death rate from accidents is the primary (non natural) cause of death – unless we just enjoy pain or have a death wish until the age of 44, this appears to contradict the conclusion that people would be intrinsically safe if management would just stop bothering them about safety. The purpose of a safety program is to collect information and develop best practices, so employees do not learn through experiencing an accident. Best practices (when / if supported and enforced by management) provide novices with a safe process so they can survive to learn safety, and prevents managers from “adjusting” a safe process to improve schedule or budget for their personal gain. For every accident where root cause was “they followed safety best practice” (if you can find a actual event that isn’t myth or exaggeration), there are literally countless examples where root cause was “personnel ignored the existing safe procedure for doing the work, or to initiate review for a controlled change to the safe procedure for doing the work, and instead implemented their own idea of what was safe and prudent”. If you have a good (safe) idea for doing the work, safety will use it – if your idea is rejected, they should explain how it creates a lower level of risk control or additional risk.
    Fewer (in some cases, incredibly fewer then previously experienced) people are injured or die because of systematic, prudent, managed safety requirements; that the safest way to do the work may not be the easiest, simplest, or most personally convenient misses the point. Safety being relaxed as a cost saving measure? Stupid way to manage, and the reason safety requirements are sometimes legal requirements as well – “cut corners and save a few bucks” doesn’t have the same impact as “cut corners and go to prison”. And now we can have a reasonable discussion and further comment ….
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    David Smith · 13d ago · Reply · Like
    @EvanJones: Ever see a movie called “Remember Charlie”? During the presentation, he discusses how he hated long sleeves, and always rolled them up when no one was around to force him to do otherwise – then he says “let me show you what that got me” and rolls his sleeves up to show that starting roughly 3/4 of the way down his biceps, skin changes to scar tissue; then he demonstrates the resulting loss of motion to both his arms resulting from the fire he was exposed to (that he himself acknowledges he started by not following the documented procedure for the work he was doing), and which hurt him worse then it otherwise would have because of all the safety lapses in his PPE. There are several types of fire retardant material – if you are allergic to the material CoP issued, let Safety know, and they will find you a different type of material – but you have to let them know. There are always examples of a safety requirement that never impacted specific people (I have never needed a seat belt – but still wear it). Safety shoes, glasses, gloves, and flame retardant material are mitigating elements – they limit (hopefully), not prevent an accident. Safety controls are to prevent the fire in the first place, so that flame retardant materials goes millions of man hours without ever being needed – doesn’t mean its never going to be useful. In fact, the longer the time between accidents, the more likely personnel are to starting thinking “that never happens, why should I worry about it”.

    Evan Jones · 13d ago · Reply · 1
    David wrote of : “there are literally countless examples where root cause was “personnel ignored the existing safe procedure for doing the work” Yes, so it seems. Millions of city motorists driving cars seem to be able to follow safe procedures. Apexindo Rig 9, drilling 10,000ft gas wells in the remote regions of Kalimantan Indonesia has gone 4000 days without an LTA. If some personnel “ignored the existing safe procedure for doing the work”, then why? Why not Rig 9?

    Nigel Davis · 12d ago · Reply · Like
    @EvanJones: My feeling here is that Evan has never been involved with a rig fire. When you have, you suddenly a) remember and b) are thankful for that safety training you received and the protective clothing you have on. (you do not see fire fighting teams wearing flip flops and vests on a hot day) Yes Conoco Phillips had issued the wrong weight coveralls for the tropics, but at least they were trying to manage a potential hazards. Rather than winging perhaps Evan and his co-workers should have requested lighter weight coverall from the store. They may not have arrived in time for that job, but hopefully the next was better supplied.

    Steven Ford · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 2
    Excellent article. Too often we highlight the role of the Safety Adviser as the person who will keep us safe. Only when we realise that we are each responsible for our own safety will we stop having accidents. Regulators and Clients want to see 15kgs of regulations and procedures so they can put a barrier between themselves and an incident – “we made sure all the right policies and procedures were in place so we are not responsible!” and unfortunately some managers have the same attitude. But unless it falls off the shelf and hits your toe, 15 kgs of procedures will not prevent an accident. They can highlight potential risks but only people being responsible for their own actions will prevent accidents. Certainly we have to prepare people through competency training to appreciate potential risks and by being aware of the risks they can responsibly and safely mitigate them but the best people to highlight the risks are the ones doing that work not someone sitting in an office removed from the worksite. The training should be through involvement and not just lecturing. The article referred to risks associated with automation and certainly ergonomics has been included in the assessment of risks. The days when we stood at the open drillers console manually “squeeking” the brake have been replaced with air-conditioned closed units with ergonomically designed chairs and automated processes that tend to lend themselves to staying in the chair rather than taking a walk around the rig to see and hear how it is all working!

    David Smith · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 1
    Individual responsibility for their own safety is paramount to a safety program – as is very accurately stated throughout these comments, regulations never prevented an injury – but the actions required by those same regulations definitely influenced safety! You cannot make someone safe, but you can teach them to work safely – when I safety train, I mostly ask questions – what are you doing, what is difficult, what is easy, what tools do you need for your job. The people who do it are the ones who know it; once they define the work scope, then its talk about what goes wrong, how mistakes creep in, misunderstandings and their results; then its risk factors – high speed, high energy, weight, chemicals, electrical, hydraulic. The end result is to teach them awareness of the company standard of IIF, a human body’s limitations, human errors, sources of hazards, how to develop a safe practice – and the number to text or call if someone needs a random audit of their site processes.

    Ravinder Dhami · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 2
    Many (by no means all) safety rules may have started out a a means of future “litigation management ” once “S#it had hit the fan”. Yes there was that noble intention of preventing re- occurrence, but a typical oil field organization tries to achieve that by placing more reliance on “compliance” than “common sense”. One size has to fit all.

    Once “my way or the highway” is established, its almost impossible to have an intelligent conversation about “what is wrong” , when the whole world around you is focused on finding out “Who is wrong”. “Constructive criticism” was and continues to be an oxymoron in the oilfield.

    Now add to this a typical safety guy (again this is not everybody), who is trying to make up for lack of his “hands on tools” knowledge by making enough noise to be noticed. If it weren’t for his (often misplaced & overzealous) interventions, the rig would have an incident every-time he shut his eyes. Very often once the primary objective of “making noise & being seen” is achieved, i have seen (at least in some cases) , their interest & true allegiance to safety, is anything but.

    No man wants anyone hurt on his watch, no one is more invested in safety than the man doing the task or his mates around him. These guys probably have the best understanding of the risks. People take shortcuts , many times because the long way around is ill though out, inefficient & actually unsafe. And at other times because an unruly boss is breathing down their neck (despite all the lip service to safety). It’s still money that makes the world go around, and people will be more inclined to pay attention to what the boss means rather than what he just says. Then there is the occasional guy who is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot, who just takes shortcuts for the heck of it, despite knowing it is wrong, & given enough time & opportunity , he will eventually get hurt.

    For the most part its still “Monkey see monkey do”..

    The “five monkeys experiment”, is a alive & well in the oil field (insofar safety culture is concerned), although I’m told the original experiment is an urban legend.

    Derek Harris · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 2
    Excellent reviews. There are thousands out of work in this industry, it will recover slowly I expect. Companies will be offering big wage reductions (my day rate is 50% less) , desperation will make people accept less wages and with lesser experience, competition will be high. The standards will not be as high and intimidation will cause personnel to accept lower stands just to keep working. A lot of experienced personnel will have moved on or retired creating a big vacuum. I hope that equipment maintenance is not compromised to offset costs. Derek

    Evan Jones · 13d ago · Reply
    Derek fears that : “The standards will not be as high..” On the contrary, Derek, contractors can use this downturn as a chance to weed out their weakest workers and pick the cream of the labor crop. We discussed this opportunity to upgrade the quality of manpower in “Selecting the right managers to deal with turbulent times”

    Gabriel Radu · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 2
    Evan, safety is to “cover the ass” , from the first and small supervisor until the CEO in various ways and situations , that’s all and especially now .

    Jill Friedman · 12d ago · Reply · Like · 2
    This is the best article on safety I’ve seen in a LONG time!

    I work on ships/boats. I have definitely seen the de-skilling since I started working offshore in 1977. There is no comparison of the things we had to know then and now. Just the effects of DP on boat handling is a good example. I have seen plenty of rigs that don’t allow a vessel inside their 500 m zone unless it was on DP. This makes it almost impossible for vessel crews to keep up their skills in boat handling. Not to mention the DP operators on the rigs, they’re lucky if they get to change heading once or twice a day.

    Safety is up to each individual, no one wants to get hurt. It’s extremely counterproductive to take the responsibility off the individual through all the paperwork, procedures, JSA’s etc and just leave them with the blame when something goes wrong. I’ve seen it a lot, in fact in almost every company, where the JSA’s are prewritten and just signed off as a formality. The things are NOT meant to be used this way! But when you have to have one for every job, even the most routine (changing light bulbs, mopping the floor, etc), then it IS going to happen. It IS ridiculous to spend an hour (or more) on paperwork for a 5 minute routine job and that needs to stop.

    We need to get off the blame culture and back to the idea of personal responsibility, make sure people are AWARE of the risks and the consequences TO THEM and they’ll act safely, but not if they think they’ll be able to escape the consequences (win big $ in lawsuits, etc).

    Companies need to stop treating people like idiots and start respecting them for the expertise they hired them for! Stop treating masters as the ultimate person to BLAME if something ever goes wrong when most of the time they are only allowed to follow ORDERS from the office. Start allowing people to use the skills and experience they have to take responsibility for their own actions again.

    Lori Frederic · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 1
    Love this article Evan! I agree that there needs to be a balance of regulations/procedures and common sense. I wrote this based on hearing all about the desire to “engineer out all the lifts”

    Paul Sacco · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 1
    I wonder sometime if there is too much focus on rewards based on KPMs such as recordable injury rate. This drives a tops-down approach to safety and can even undermine learning from incidents. I have observed that, in some oil company cultures, when an incident occurs people tend to scatter because attachment to the rewards of the KPM means that someone is going to be accountable. As a result, it is difficult to get information and determine the real root cause, learnings are lost, more rules put in place, the incident repeated and the cycle repeats. KPM should be used to learn from rather than to monetize safety.

    Mark Van Velzor · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 1
    Head on the lodge pole, over reaching, low value high visibility solutions and tombstone legislation.

    When any area takes the attitude that X isn’t an immediate problem and avoids dealing with it until it has occurred and a disaster occurs because it cost some money along the way but if we don’t act now think of all of the money that we’ll save till then.

    MBAs formula for mega bonuses and by the time it occurs (calculated risk playing the odds) the bonus checks will have cleared, they’ll be long gone, it occurred on someone else’s watch, it isn’t associated with them.

    When something goes terribly wrong eventually everyone in the public wants someone held accountable, the head on a lodge pole.

    When something goes terribly wrong eventually everyone in the public wants something done so politicians err on the side of overreach (too much) because it’s in their best political interest to assure it doesn’t happen again (jobs be damned, their best interest is to get reelected again, if you miss this then you don’t understand politics and most voters reactions).

    When something goes terribly wrong high visibility is what quickly quiets the mob, value is not relevant to quenching their anger quick high visibility answers are the ticket when the mob wants to lynch you so value isn’t an issue, the fact it doesn’t work will be dealt with down the road.

    When something goes terribly wrong tombstone legislation is what happens because the lynch mob demands action and politicians want to be reelected.

    Don’t think I’m right?

    If I’m wrong why is this how things occur?

    We as an industry need to evaluate conditions and determine the risk, the probabilities and how bad things can go bad.

    We need to look for high value solutions.

    Deming would not go into a company unless management from the top supported his concepts.

    The problem is that these are but buzzword rah rah platitudes not a change of corporate culture.

    To much of a get er done attitude from management closer to the workers because there is no metric that factors in safety improvements.

    Doing something so that management can say were doing something much of the time does more harm than good.

    Instead high value well thought out solutions are what are needed.

    Sadly those aren’t the high visibility targets that are the ticket to someone’s bonus.

    And so it goes.

    Alan Aldrich · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 1
    2 … Been there, done that.

    Peter Aird · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 1
    Property (well /equipment / system) related damage accidents. The neglected part of drilling safety that management nor regulators have yet to address.. Yet management assure thier bonuses because “no one got hurt” mindset is current frame of mind. Time to surely change people or change people.

    Robert D. McCutchen · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 1
    Regulations have now replaced intensive hands on safety training to prevent mishap. This must be a untrained regulation writers dream.

    Donnie Slape · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 1
    Excellent article. Take pictures of the safety man taking pictures. They will try and stop you.

    David Smith · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 1
    Every one has excellent points (and it is odd about that chiksan, I have run across that in several locations around the world); However, let me point out a few more considerations –

    Is it a de-skilling when personnel are restrained from doing certain things – or is it an increase in skill?
    Is there not a significant difference between a bad safety program and safety programs being bad?
    “… the majority of HSE professionals creating/managing safety policies are extremely clean, extremely well air conditioned individuals sporting occupational safety degrees that have zero understanding of how their policy’s play out in the field.” I have to question your data. Majority implies that literally 51% or more of all HSE professionals, worldwide, meet your description. I have worked in 45 countries, on more projects then I can remember, and only recall 1 safety guy who met that description who wasn’t hammered into shape or run off very quickly (I do recall being fired by a O&G manager, not safety rep, who was very popular for putting his foot down about “these stupid and onerous safety requirements” – until his version of common sense resulted in the death of a 21 year old kid 6 months later). Call that the Theory X Manager – thinks screaming and shouting compensate for lack of ability and knowledge, and uses his position and authority to dump on people. Should be run off today, with no notice.
    “I watched a hand pass out as we were pulling a completion string once because an extremely clean and well air conditioned young safety professional thought our policies for working with completion fluid weren’t “safe” enough. This hot humid August day we were required to don slicker suits, rubber boots, rubber gloves (all taped together so there were no gaps), face masks and goggles.” Sorry to hear that, hope the person was rescued and is ok – I have no doubt that happens, and its an excellent example of a safety screw up – solving an issue by creating a greater issue. If consequences of fluid exposure were sufficiently hazardous, and protective clothing was the only solution, then additional actions should have been taken – short shifts, ice packs, fans, misters, whats the number for the ambulance, do we have a decon shower, what happens if someone passes out in the work area, etc. On the other hand, if this had been December, different safety controls would have to be in place. But I have to ask, what kind of safety program allowed this course of action without considering the potential secondary risks? Additionally, the rookie might not have sufficient experience to understand they should decline those instructions, but was the whole crew new with zero experience? Was there no one there with sufficient training or experience to say “no, this is a really bad idea!”? I would have to say there was much more wrong at that location than the safety rep’s competence.
    Common sense is a skill set that results from experience and training. But if you spent 30 years drilling in Louisiana would the experience prepare you to operate in the Arctic? Would 30 years drilling in the Arctic prepare you for a simple vehicle breakdown on the way to the rig in KSA? Certainly some aspects of experience are transferable, but a safety program is meant to create specific processes, to safely achieve a goal or objective, with existing resources (because what good is a plan that depends on tools you don’t have)?

    Elements of a good program include adherence to laws of physics and management practices – unfortunately, the best plans sometimes deteriorate to the point of “you are fired”. I love my co-workers – and as much as it saddens me to do it, I’d rather fire someone then call their family to report, “I knew he had bad habits, but didn’t want to nag about safety, and while waiting for his common sense to kick in, the job reached out and killed him”.
    Show 2 More

    Colin McAndrew · 12d ago · Reply · Like
    @RoyGarden: I would argue with your last paragraph on time and costs, at least- it now takes longer to drill the same wells and costs more than ten years ago- costs outside of inflated rig and service prices.. We could all cite stories of increasingly stupid practices as way beyond ALARP but as backup would refer to you to 2014 McKinsey Report on ” Meeting the Challenges of increasing North Sea costs”- a bit pasted below. I think another article from them has more data from a survey of all operators.

    “Lower productivity: Work productivity has declined on both the UKCS and the NCS. In 2012 on the UKCS, 179 core personnel travelled offshore per manned installation — a 26% increase from 200610. In the NCS, work productivity — measured as hours per activity — declined by 4% p.a. between 2001 and 2009. One explanation is the fall in the number of weeks a typical worker has to be offshore per year — requiring more staff to cover the same number of offshore positions. On CAPEX, the time taken to drill a typical well on the UKCS has increased by 17 days over the past 5 years11. On the NCS, crews drill 17 metres per day less on average today than five years ago. One operator told us that their drilling speed has dropped from 175 metres per day in 2004 to less than 100 metres per day in 2013–14. While the operator acknowledges that water and well depths have affected drilling efficiency, they believe that less experienced drilling crews and the scarcity of appropriate drilling facilities and other specialised inputs have greatly exacerbated the problem. Other analyses, comparing the time taken to drill almost identical wells on the same facilities, but a decade apart, confirm this point by highlighting a doubling on average of the time taken to carry out a broad sample of standard procedures. ƒ Over-specification of activities and processes: Over-specification — increased ”

    David Smith · 12d ago · Reply · Like
    @ColinMcAndrew: Very good points, but the article doesn’t provide much detail about a link between safety programs and worker productivity. Productivity has to be defined and measured to be useful data. Example – When the US went to a 55 mph limit on all highways the trucking industry objected, stating that it would increase prices and delay commerce. The actual result was greater delivery times – but also reduced accidents and reduced maintenance costs, that more than compensated for the increase in delivery times. Was this a reduction in productivity? Was the reduction in productivity the data references, defined as speed to drill a well, caused by safety programs? Was more time spent drilling, along with more limbs or lives saved? Was there an associated savings from reduction in equipment failures, and did it exceed the additional time to drill a well? Were there less environmental accidents? Example – I was hired to address a field development drilling program experiencing productivity impacts due to equipment failures. When I implemented a QAQC program with regular inspections and maintenance of bop and drill stem components, there was immediate push back that these activities were delaying the drilling program, as well as costing additional money (increase in QAQC costs was roughly 1.5 million USD for 5 years of drilling). The failure rate had started dropping immediately, and the company stayed with the program. End result was a shift from 1 major mechanical failure event per 5 weeks to, after all QAQC programs were in place and operational, to 1 DH mechanical failure event in the last 152 weeks of drilling operations. The cost of equipment failure had been 1 million USD per week (about 1 day a week lost to failure remediation). An additional benefit was instead of spending time POOH, replace, and RIH (.5 to 1 million USD, depending on depth); or POOH remnant of drill stem, fish, give up, cement, lateral (up to 10 million USD), we just drilled ahead. But it took longer – and saved over 100 million USD. Decline in productivity?

    The data does refer to several potential causes for loss of productivity – 1. Less experienced crews – experience can be augmented by documented procedures (read how to do this versus figure it out on your own by fiddling with this expensive and dangerous equipment). 2. Depths – are we drilling to the same depths, and in the same depths of water that we were 10 years ago? How about ERD? How many 30,000 foot laterals were being drilled 10 years ago?

    Time alone is just not an effective way to measure productivity – I have personally seen multiple examples of time savings that resulted in danger to life (and all of us know what happened on Deep Horizon as a result of a few minutes being saved here and there), including incidents where the rig super’s defense of his actions was that he never heard of any failures – until I showed him the safety bulletins warning about the exact activity being done resulting in injuries and equipment failures, and further, that the equipment being damaged in efforts to save time had already cracked; had he kept going, when the equipment finally totally failed above the rotary table it would have dropped about 1,000 pounds of steel on the drilling crew. The preceding example saved perhaps a total of 30 minutes every 2 weeks – is productivity drilling ahead as fast as possible, or is productivity drilling ahead as safe as reasonably achievable?

    Lawrence Goldberg · 10d ago · Reply · Like · 1 I have worked for 30 years as a diving consultant in nondestructive testing to both Oil and Gas Companies and Drilling Contractors. I have never not been asked back due to showing safety concerns and issues of safety. This stems from a prejob meeting either in a meeting or telecon. The discussion of adding extra personnel works best when safety is addressed in the use extra personnel framed by an increase efficiency. The issues of safety also work best when there is a healthy relationship between a contractor and buyer of services. In these meetings, the concept of self reporting of near misses are just as important as injuries and LTA’s.

    L.w. Brittian · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 1
    Wow! Me. Jones your well researched and written arrival has lots of professionals feeling like they share your view point. Not very often to see drawing professionals key the Mike like your article has inspired them to do. Now how in the hell you we get the deciders to see the light andxsay Amen?

    Evan Jones · 13d ago · Reply · 1
    @ L.W. Brittian : ” Now how in the hell you we get the deciders to see the light andxsay Amen?” Good question Mr Brittian, evidentally, nobody knows how. Of more pressing urgency are those useless and deadly SOLAS mandated On-Load, Release, Retrieval Systems (OLRRS) for lifeboats. See: – How do we get OLRRS abolished? – How did SOLAS cook up such a useless and deadly requirement? – Has some kind of sickness crept into the Safety Industry’s rule making mechanism?

    Do we need an essay that examines this?

    Glenn Schneider · 13d ago · Reply · Like · 1
    lol well this certainly inspired discussion. Getting to root cause and going through it properly is very important. A lot can be learned from proper investigation then passing that knowledge on. There is a human element in everything as long as there are humans, your article could have been half as long, I am not criticizing it when I say that, other than you can glaze over what otherwise was well written, which is what you warn about in a safety aspect. You take more than one side of the fence, which is correct, because there is more than one side. It is as many people as there are on the site, in terms of “sides”. It’s about awareness, its about proper procedures, which mechanically are necessary, (people should be certified prior to live work for that which they are performing). Its also about basic, proper leadership (which would eliminate the hard ass safety guy trying to prove a point instead of educate and be part of the team). This could go on and on, and judging by the comments it will! So great post. Cheers everyone and play safe…

    Paul Oortman · 12d ago · Reply · Like · 1
    Evan, excellent paper. You mention several counterproductive phenomena that I have witnessed too often. However, I would like to make two critical notes. One is from anthropological / behavioral biology and one is from legal perspective. Anthropology and behavioral studies of primates all show that man is a social animal, they live in groups with hierarchies (differences in authority). Mostly hierarchies have made societies very efficient and effective. Accidents are (mostly) failures of hierarchies and should be prevented by studying hierarchies, not just the last link in the chain. Secondly, from a legal perspective if two people have a contract that A works for B, then B has (contractual=legally binding) authority over A. The flip side of this authority is that B has (equally legally binding) responsibility for B.

    Therefore, the question is not binary; either the employer or the employee is responsible. There is a joint responsibility (because the employee is not a programmable robot, he has a decision space of his own). The question is where is the balance and how to institutionalize and formalize this.

    David Smith · 12d ago · Reply · Like
    Hierarchies and ergonomics – the process has to fit human behavior, or its not going to be possible to get the needed results. An example would be a few jobs ago, I was tasked with introducing safety training to a small crew – 4 of 5 bought into the program, 1 deliberately took risks, belittled the program to the team, cut corners in front of the team, and otherwise did everything he could think of to derail it. I could see the team taking 2 steps forward, and then this 1 member dragging everyone 3 steps back – so he was released to pursue opportunities more in line with his inclinations (yes, could have been salvaged, but would have been punishing the 4 that were trying to succeed, to focus resources on the 1 that was only trying to cause chaos. Development went to the 4 who tried, and they turned into an excellent team. Had to break the social group first though. Binary responsibility is an example of why the safety programs are top down – the worker on the spot is individually responsible, but is on the spot because of management; I suppose legally management is the controlling and cognizant entity (we hope anyway), held legally responsible to assure the person they placed in the spot is adequately prepared.

    Paul Oortman · 12d ago · Reply · Like
    @DavidSmith: Great response.Thanks Dave. Human behaviour is indeed subject to personal factors, but also mallable under social pressures. Responsibility is also a matter of shade of grey. It is rarely that all responsibility falls on either side: the (top) manager, the victim or others directly involved. That is why judges investigate the circumstaces when assessing culpabilty.

    James Drouin · 12d ago · Reply · Like · 1
    Point 5 needs to be changed to:

    “5. People Must Have Room To Think For Themselves”

    in order to comply with Point 1. But, other than that, thumbs up.

    Sherwin Harlich · 12d ago · Reply · Like · 1
    I believe that JSA (Job Safety Analysis) has made one huge decrease in incidents and one of the most important safety tools. On of the main components is direct communication with workers and a better understanding of exactly what the task is and what the hazards are.

    Alexander Nimac · 13d ago · Reply · Like
    Well put I agree with you Evan. In the end every individual is their own safety officer

    Arthur Horn · 13d ago · Reply · Like

    Doug Denning · 13d ago · Reply · Like
    This a really good read. I would like to being up something that is in every facet of business. That would be numbers placed on crew bosses/shift managers to reach a set goal at the end of the day. When this happens it not only places pressure on the shift leader, but it also places workers in the direct path of danager. Sometimes short cuts are used in the hopes of making up or saving time. Shift leaders push the workers and the workers push the work rate to what could and usually does cause bodily harm. No matter how big or small the injury is. As safety goes”an injury is an injury”. Working invironment is a huge factor everywhere. From the weather to the floor/decking that people stand/walk on. You are right about properly trained safety officers. Safety Officers that dont worry about what the boss might say. A safety officer first concern is to the workers. If the safety officer does that, everything else will fall in place. Better for everyone from the workers and thier families to the company and its managers/bosses and corporate officers.

    Jim Stein · 13d ago · Reply · Like
    Thank you, sir. Used to work in another industry as a plant operator. The company policy was to follow each significant incident/failure with a root cause analysis. Human error or negligence was not an allowable cause and an engineering control or an administrative control had to be redefined or added. To me, this drove the process toward greater complexity and needless oversight for all but Schleprock (could have been me at times). There did not seem to be a mechanism to allow any reset or review of established safety and process controls, only additions.

    The company did do a good job instilling a sense of ownership and engagement with the teams – reminds me of your list of 10 workplace needs.

    Evan Jones · 13d ago · Reply · 2
    Peter Drucker once argued that any user system (up to the level of entire countries) should be rationed with a limited number of laws and regulations. Meaning that issuance of a new rule, can only be done by removing an old one.

    James C. Wilkin · 13d ago · Reply · Like
    Very well done Mr. Jones. I’m saving this one.

    Luis Tovar · 13d ago · Reply · Like
    Evan, excellent as always and my 4″ binder is filling up with your writings and contributions! Be careful when you go back onboard a working rig as your “safety” induction/spin cycle may include TSA procedures due to some “new” OSHA/NEBOSH Chapter & Verse…best always!!

    Robert D. McCutchen · 13d ago · Reply · Like
    1501 should be the standard pump iron and 2002 standard frac iron. But chicsan is not required to be API certified by API ???

    Chris Sabulsky · 13d ago · Reply · Like
    Good article a few points I beleave and have seen first hand where safety rules become so overhelming that production type work such as work over start falling behind do to the fact the Copman is overwhelmed by policy and standard’s that must be followed or it’s his neck. I beleave to a certain point some company’s have lost the comon sense approach to safety. I for one want everyone to go home in one piece.But I do not think every time there is a change there needs to be a stand down .The people out there already k ow the job or they would not be there.Common sense goes along way.

    Kurt Anderson · 13d ago · Reply · Like
    Those who seek to absolve themselves of blame for accidents by stacking paperwork in front of the judge are simply not in the safety business. No amount of signatures or programs are worth a damn when a culture of safety is NOT in place. Sadly, most oilfield businesses (service and operators) do not embrace the outcome of a safe workplace and trained and informed employees; they simply want to show they’ve done the paperwork. In my 30 yrs in the field, I’ve seen steady progress but also steady departure from the safety program purpose; to keep workers safe, informed, and thinking about safety. Too often, the safety division wags the dog. They’ve carved out niches in the business, and in order to preserve their budgets and jobs, they come up with new programs. Real safety training is MBWA (Management By Walking Around). If you happen to be a safety individual, this means you should not be sitting behind a desk writing new rules and regulations within your company, for those who work with or below your logo, you should be on the road, spending as much face-time as possible with employees, contractors, etc. In those 30 years in this oilfield, I have only seen one safety officer who actually communicated safety to his people. He not only checked the paperwork, but worked with crews for 2 days to make sure they did their jobs as safely as possible.
    The blame for the mess is us. We did not train our people to replace us when we moved up. We were too busy worrying about deadlines, watching the clock, or just too tired and too old to bother. Now we have too much paperwork to do the training and have to rely on paperwork to keep our people safe. A sad commentary for those of us with a lot less career ahead of us than behind us.

    L.w. Brittian · 12d ago · Reply · Like
    Me. Jones –well yes there would be value in publishing an article what the drivers that power the development of additional safety burdens. But perhaps a review of some distant major accidents ( not incidents) would provide the best vantage point. The ocean ranger or the Texas tower are old enough to have a full history and the response of the safety regulators!

    Evan Jones · 12d ago · Reply
    I never followed the Texas Tower incident, though I recently sent Oilpro a short post entitled : “BP Macondo disaster explained in 300 words”, which they never ran, because it was not considered topical. Find it here: . But lessons from the Macondo incident do not explain how useless and counter productive rules have entered into the Safety Industry’s rule making mechanism. (Such as SOLAS rules which mandate those deadly On-Load, Release, Retrieval Systems (OLRRS) for lifeboats.) Not all new safety rules are a burden, as Sherwin Harlich points out in the Comment above, where a “huge decrease in incidents” was bought about by JSAs (Job Safety Analysis), which get users to think about how they plan their work, before tackling a task.

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