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Better Safety Performance Measures Can Lead to Change by Improving Conversations

Fig. 1—The Swiss Cheese model.

For the last 40 years, the oil and gas industry has measured safety performance using injury-frequency rates. Industry thinking is based on the premise that, if we do not have injuries, then we are safe and, if we have injuries, we are not safe. This paper examines the fallacy of that premise and the use of injury rates as a key performance indicator (KPI). It argues that, as a KPI, injury-frequency rate is no longer a valid measure.

The Current Situation

As a KPI, injury-frequency rate has served the industry well. It has driven ownership of safety performance as a line responsibility, allowed senior executives to hold managers accountable for performance, forced leaders to notice injuries, and driven many improvements.

A graph showing performance over a 2-year period would be discussed at management meetings, reasons argued, and actions given to business unit leaders. The data could create a discussion along the lines of “Overall performance is clearly going in the wrong direction. We all need to be concerned.” Pointing to one cause would be difficult, and many theories would be put forward on the basis of this data.

This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights of paper SPE 190663, “Building Better Performance Measures for Better Conversations To Provoke Change,” by A.D. Gower-Jones, W.T. Peuscher, J. Groeneweg, SPE, S. King, and M. Taylor, Tripod Foundation, prepared for the 2018 SPE International Conference on Health, Safety, Security, Environment, and Social Responsibility, Abu Dhabi, 16–18 April. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
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Better Safety Performance Measures Can Lead to Change by Improving Conversations

01 August 2018

Volume: 70 | Issue: 8

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