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Why Striving for 'Failing Less' Might Lead to Better Safety Outcomes

Updated: Dec 17, 2023

Shifting the Safety Paradigm

In the oil and gas sector, traditional safety programs have largely focused on averting negative outcomes, often resorting to punitive measures as a deterrent. However, this approach might inadvertently cause employee disengagement from safety processes. It's time for a fundamental shift in safety culture that moves away from mere avoidance of failures and towards a model that actively seeks success and celebrates achievements.

The Entrepreneurial Mindset in Safety

Imagine an entrepreneur who, rather than simply trying to avoid disappointing any customer, actively seeks to delight them. This mindset shift – from avoiding failure to pursuing success – is crucial in safety management as well. Success in safety should not be defined solely by the absence of incidents but by the presence of proactive safety practices and a continuous pursuit of excellence.

Lessons from Sports Coaching

In sports, a coach focuses not just on avoiding errors but on winning strategies and positive reinforcement. Similarly, in the oil and gas industry, a shift from a punitive approach to one that motivates and engages employees is needed. As Roberto Goizueta pointed out, avoiding failure alone is not a strategy for success. A dynamic safety culture is about moving forward, innovating, and continuously improving.

Creating a Positive and Proactive Safety Environment

To cultivate an effective safety culture, oil and gas industry leaders must create environments that recognize and reward positive safety behaviors. This involves setting clear and achievable safety goals, measuring progress, and focusing on proactive strategies that contribute to a safe working environment.

Beyond Zero Injuries: A Holistic Approach

The goal of achieving zero injuries, while important, should be part of a broader strategy that includes a vision of what safety excellence looks like. This vision should be supported by measurable performance indicators that reflect not just the absence of incidents but the presence of proactive safety measures and continuous improvement efforts.

The Road Ahead: Building a Resilient Safety Culture

To build a resilient and empowered workforce in the oil and gas industry, it’s essential to nurture a culture motivated by success rather than fear of failure. This means prioritizing proactive safety initiatives, encouraging innovation in safety practices, and committing to excellence in all aspects of safety management. By embracing this new perspective, organizations can foster a safety culture where employees are not just compliant but actively engaged and invested in the collective goal of ensuring a safe and successful workplace.

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