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Ten Questions About Your Safety Program

I've observed a common challenge in safety improvement initiatives – the rush to find new solutions without fully understanding or maximizing the potential of existing strategies. This article aims to shed light on the importance of introspection before venturing into new safety tools or methods, especially in an industry where resources are increasingly scrutinized and efficiency is paramount.

  1. Clarifying the Goal: In safety improvement, it’s crucial to distinguish between completing tasks and enhancing safety. Goals should be aligned with long-term safety improvements, not just short-term tasks. Ensure everyone understands how their role contributes to the broader safety strategy.

  2. Setting Clear Expectations: It's imperative that everyone can articulate what is expected of them regarding safety. Distinguish between the desired results and the performance needed to achieve these results. Ambiguity leads to misalignment and ineffective actions.

  3. Recognizing Value: Can your team see the value in your safety efforts? It's essential to tie your initiatives to the overarching safety excellence strategy. Employ tools like value stream mapping to analyze and optimize the process flow and communication, ensuring that every step adds value.

  4. Addressing the WIIFM Factor: It’s important to address the “What’s in it for me?” question. Understanding and communicating the personal value of safety initiatives to each stakeholder is critical for ensuring engagement and motivation.

  5. Encouraging Creative Input: Discretionary effort often stems from personal investment in the design of an initiative. Encourage creative input from those impacted by changes to foster ownership and active participation.

  6. Ensuring Flexibility: Adaptability in safety initiatives is key. Assess whether your current program can evolve with your organization's needs. This requires internal expertise, as addressed in the next point.

  7. Developing Internal Expertise: Relying on external vendors for safety tool effectiveness can be unsustainable. Aim to internalize expertise to ensure continuity and adaptability in your safety strategies, especially in budget-constrained environments.

  8. Proactive vs. Reactive Triggers: Evaluate what drives your safety activities. A balance between proactive and reactive measures is ideal, but a focus on preventative efforts is indicative of a world-class operation.

  9. Communicating the Focus: Ensure that the focus or objective of each safety initiative is well-known and understood across the organization. Without this awareness, measuring success and seeing value becomes challenging.

  10. Celebrating Successes: Don’t shy away from sharing your achievements. Regular communication of successes not only boosts morale but also encourages continued participation and support for safety initiatives.

In conclusion, before searching for new solutions, it’s beneficial to revisit and refine your existing safety strategies. This approach is more aligned with the current lean operational environment in the oil and gas industry. Each organization, and even each site within a company, is unique. These questions should serve as a guide to evaluate and enhance your existing safety efforts, rather than a one-size-fits-all solution. Remember, sustainable safety excellence often stems more from intentional efforts than from mere luck.

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