Sustainability for the oil and gas industry depends as much on cultural, organizational, and human performance paradigms as it does on technology. To retain our social license to operate—and, perhaps, even to exist—we need to close gaps in health, safety, and environmental (HSE) performance. That requires changing the way we manage HSE.
Baker Hughes, a GE company is challenging the way the industry has historically looked at the cause of HSE incidents. We believe that understanding why an incident occurs is less important than understanding how it occurs. When we understand how something happens, we can take action to prevent it. For HSE incidents, this requires going beyond the industry view of “why” so often seen as outputs of traditional root cause tools. Traditionally, when we ask the question why, we focus on who is responsible, what went wrong, what people failed to do. This perspective assumes that human actions are the cause of incidents and focuses on “fixing” the person.
The true causes of HSE incidents go deeper—to gaps in processes, workflows, and communication and to the culture and thinking of the organization that lie well beneath the incident itself. Finding and fixing these underlying factors not only prevents repeat incidents but also creates an organizational foundation that finds and closes gaps that have not yet materialized into an incident.
We developed “What Lies Beneath?” in 2016 as a mindset and series of thought-provoking, facilitated learning sessions that challenge traditional thinking and allow participants—from field technicians to front-office staff and executive leadership—to explore a different perspective on how something happened or could happen. Each session illustrates how human and organizational factors influence employee decisions and actions and fosters a perspective that evaluates the systems and organizational factors that put people at risk. This makes it possible to identify and address the deeper issues that allow increased levels of risk in the workplace.