Thought LeadershipIn every profession there is reality and the perception of the reality thrust upon us on a daily basis. Our Oil and Gas industry is littered with statements, idioms and ideas about how we should discuss and market health and safety to our personnel. Below are seven thought processes, which you as the safety professional should avoid. Stating these thoughts and elaborating on them will cost you credibility. Your personnel will disengage due to the fact that it doesn't make sense, or rather; it is not common sense to say this "stuff."

Safety is Number One

You proclaim safety as being your number one priority. This statement just lost you a lot of credibility. Everyone knows that in order for any business to function, it needs to generate revenue. Every time your organization proclaims this great truth you chip away at your own credibility. I cannot tell you how often I have heard this statement in meetings and see people nod off or roll their eyes.

Man Hours Without Incident

One million man-hours without an incident! You drive up on site and you notice massive billboards proclaiming this achievement. You and I both know that building complex facilities and associated pipelines leads to inevitable incidents. With so much men and material present on a worksite the law of inevitability states that a worker will get injured or be involved with in an incident.

Don't Do It If You Cannot Do it Safely

If it can't be done safely then you shouldn't do it all. Really? One must assume risk in daily work tasks and must complete those tasks. We attempt to mitigate that risk by having engineering, administrative and procedural controls in place. Oh right, before I forget, make sure you wear your personal protective equipment when you are at work as the last line of defense. Have you seen workers take off their safety glasses because their glasses are fogging up in -25C weather due to the fact they are working on a steam truck? Will you tell them to stop working until the weather warms up? He is going to laugh at you and shake his head.

My Boss Watches Over Me

Management should lead safety because it is their responsibility to look out for my well-being. Now I hope that you are not blindly relying on someone in downtown Calgary or Edmonton expecting him or her to watch your every move so that you may come home in one piece. Management is ultimately responsible for you in the eyes of the law. (Scary) However, can you seriously expect him or her to build this elaborate framework of safety controls into every business process or task that you encounter on a daily basis? That is like saying the government needs to take care of all my needs and if something were to happen then I can place the blame on them.

Blame the Worker

When an incident occurs, nine out of ten times the worker or supervisor involved is named as the culprit in the incident. So get this: an incident occurs and a complex Taproot investigation ensues. The workers in the field know this hard statistic. Nine out of ten times they will get blamed because no one else will take a stand and say, yes, that one was on me. Yes, I will take full responsibility for that mistake. Let's learn from it and incorporate those lessons for next time. Did I mention your credibility with workers?

Bury Our Workers With Procedural Deathtraps

You bury your workers with procedures that require paperwork at each and every step. It is called a workflow and right now we are doing a pretty crappy job when it comes to assisting our people in the field. Do you know what a proper work flow is in any company? It is presenting a worker with minimal paperwork that is simple and easy to use. It is free of jargon and bureaucratic mumbo jumbo. The worker understands where they fit into the framework of their organization and how they should go about in completing their tasks. Burying workers neck deep in a procedural logjam followed with paperwork does not in fact make a worker safer. It simply pushes him to cut through the mundane tasks very quickly so that he can get to work. In essence we then achieve the polar opposite of what we want to happen.

There Is No Cost To Safety

There is no cost to safety said no operations manager EVER! When someone directs this statement at you, please inquire politely what they mean by that? Someone must always pay the price of safety. Whether the E&P politely informs your organization that they will no longer subsidize your health and safety training required by them. Or the procedural processes in place to document and note health and safety challenges. Everything has a cost, and must be accounted for.

©2014 White Knight Safety Solutions Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission of author.