Changing Safety Paradigms in the Oil and Gas Industry
The oil and gas industry boasts a hard-earned reputation of being able to get the job done anytime, anywhere. Unfortunately, this distinction has also produced an inherent attitude that too often puts the job first, regardless of personal safety. To confront the ongoing stigma of poor safety practices, the industry began promoting a “safety first” approach. As admirable as this goal is, many health, safety, and environmental (HSE) professionals found that deeply ingrained attitudes and practices are difficult to change. HSE personnel often fail to convey their message effectively because they lack not just a formal program but also a willing audience. Talking “safety first” is merely the first step to promoting a successful HSE culture within the industry. The next key step requires the development of an HSE management system that allows all HSE professionals to promote a consistent message to the industry. Proven success stories provide models to replicate and encouragement for the industry to change. This paper will discuss some of the practices currently engrained in the industry and outline methods to help shift current HSE patterns to consider safety first. Leadership practices that supervisors can implement to define and shape employee behavior will also be detailed. To conclude, this paper will discuss the characteristics of a program that produced a successful HSE culture and convey steps others can take to modify the existing industry paradigm.