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Embracing Innovation: Moving Beyond Best Practices in Safety

Updated: Dec 17, 2023

There's a common tendency among organizations to lean heavily on established best practices for operational excellence. While these practices have their place, it’s crucial to recognize the limitations of adhering to them rigidly. In this blog, we’ll delve into why questioning best practices, embracing innovation, and redefining safety excellence are essential for fostering a culture of continuous improvement in safety.

Understanding Best Practices

Best practices are established methods or processes that have been proven effective in achieving certain goals. However, the dynamic nature of the oil and gas industry means that these practices should be continually reassessed. What was once a ‘best’ practice may now be outdated or merely average. Embracing existing best practices without critical evaluation can lead to stagnation and hinder the pursuit of excellence.

The Need for Continuous Improvement and Innovation

Peter Drucker's insight that success can make certain behaviors obsolete is particularly relevant in the context of safety in the oil and gas industry. Here, safety performance is not just a compliance measure but a competitive advantage. We must strive for continuous improvement and embrace innovative approaches that elevate safety beyond the mere absence of accidents or incidents.

Redefining Safety

Traditionally, safety has been measured by the absence of negative outcomes. However, a more progressive approach involves combining environmental and behavioral strategies to actively manage risk exposure. Recognizing that eliminating all risk is unrealistic, our focus should shift toward proactive risk management and improvement.

The Importance of Experimentation

Echoing Leo Burnett's sentiment, reaching for excellence in safety means striving for the highest standards, even if it involves trial and error. Safety is too important to settle for mediocrity. We must continue to experiment, explore new methodologies, and learn from our failures to drive meaningful improvements.

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s call for bold, persistent experimentation applies aptly to the field of safety. Rather than viewing current practices as the final word, we must engage in a continual quest for improvement. This requires cultivating a culture where innovation is encouraged, and challenging the status quo is welcomed.

The Role of Safety Consultants

As HSE consultants, our responsibility extends beyond merely adopting best practices. We must encourage organizations to question established norms, seek innovative solutions, and redefine what safety excellence means. By promoting a culture of collaborative innovation and continuous improvement, we can transcend average performance and aim for sustained excellence in safety.

Our journey towards better safety practices in the oil and gas industry is ongoing. Through continuous learning, innovative thinking, and collaborative efforts, we can shape a future where safety is not just about avoiding harm but about proactively managing risks and striving for the highest standards of operational excellence.

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