Latest News

Safety is just an illusion in the oil and gas industry

A disengaged workforce and ineffective health and safety training practices are contributing to the “illusion of safety” in the oil and gas industry, according to Greg Smith, Legal Practice Director at STE Safety & Legal.

Smith, who will speak at this week’s Australasian Oil & Gas Conference (AOG) in Perth, said the industry needed to review the way in which training is considered and how current approaches to training may undermine good safety management.

“While training is a key component to any safety management system, history would suggest that the reliance on training creates an “illusion of safety”.

In other words, managers see a lot of time and resources being invested in safety training and therefore believe the health and safety risks are being effectively managed, but there is no proper or effective assurance process to actually demonstrate that,” said Smith.

“Major accident inquiries over the past 25 years, including Piper Alpha, Longford, BP Texas City, Montara and Deepwater Horizon, have all observed that levels of training and competence have been found to be below society’s expectations,” said Smith. 

Smith said the current approach to training was also leading to a disengaged workforce.

“Safety training is often perceived as boring, irrelevant, something that adds to their workload and an exercise in “backside covering” by management,” he said.

“We impose a range of health and safety training on the workforce that managers, especially senior managers, don’t attend or only attend in part. This means managers are not getting the information they need to understand what the workforce is supposed to be doing and also adds significantly to the disengagement of workers.

Speaking as part of the safety stream of the AOG Conference, Smith will look at the way safety training has been considered in major inquiries over the past 25 years and draw together lessons for the industry today.

Smith has spent almost two decades specialising in safety and health management, focussing on assisting clients’ understanding of organisational and individual responsibility for health and safety.

His presentation will be one of the highlights of a session dedicated to safety challenges and solutions in the oil and gas industry.

AOG will take place at Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre from 20-22 February 2013.

Send this to a friend