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Shifting Focus: The Power of Behaviors in Achieving Safety Excellence

Updated: Dec 17, 2023


In the oil and gas industry, a sector often associated with high risk, cultivating a robust culture of safety is essential. My experience indicates that engagement and personal responsibility are crucial components in achieving safety excellence. Simply asking employees to prioritize safety is insufficient. A more effective approach involves demonstrating and reinforcing safe behaviors. This blog post delves into the critical role of behaviors in shaping safety culture and performance, offering strategies for organizations to harness them for sustainable excellence.


Differentiating Effort from Luck

Focusing solely on outcomes in safety practices can be deceptive. Evaluating individuals based on results, without considering their efforts, can lead to a superstitious understanding of safety rather than consistent, reliable progress. It’s crucial for leaders in the oil and gas industry to recognize and appreciate the specific actions contributing to safe outcomes. It's about the methods, not just the results.


The Significance of Observable Actions

Observable actions, including spoken words, body language, and work conduct, are pivotal in safety management. Understanding the motivations behind these actions is key to driving long-lasting change and excellence in safety. By comprehending why employees act as they do, leaders can guide them toward safer and more productive behaviors.


A Behavioral Approach to Safety

In the oil and gas industry, where compliance is non-negotiable, a behavioral approach is instrumental. From top executives to new hires, everyone's behavior impacts safety. Employees must be accountable for their safety and expect the same from the organization. Aligning individual and leadership behaviors with safety values is vital for balance and success.


Defining Roles and Expectations

For safety excellence, every role from the drilling floor to the executive office should have clear responsibilities and expectations. Just as in quality management, safety guidelines and standards must be well-articulated. Systems and culture should align to reinforce these desired behaviors, enabling breakthroughs in performance and sustained positive outcomes.


Focusing on Desired Outcomes

Instead of concentrating on what to avoid, it’s more effective to focus on desired behaviors and outcomes. Leaders who direct their efforts toward positive goals can transform their organization’s safety culture. Clear definitions of desired behaviors, coupled with aligned systems and culture, pave a clear path to safety excellence.


Leading Towards a Defined Goal

Leadership without a clear end goal is ineffective, particularly in a high-stakes environment like oil and gas operations. Defining a positive, clear vision of the desired safety culture is essential. This vision guides the alignment of systems, culture, and expectations, steering teams towards effective safety management.


For organizations in the oil and gas industry to attain and maintain safety excellence, it's not enough to request support and responsibility for safety. Demonstrating and consistently reinforcing safe behaviors is key. By understanding the influence of behavior, defining roles clearly, and steering the organization towards a defined safety goal, a culture of safety that fosters sustainable performance and ongoing improvement can be established. In the world of oil and gas, where the stakes are high, actions indeed speak louder than words in achieving safety.

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