Behavioural psychology harnessed to prevent North Sea accidents

EY launching annual UK oilfield services report.
Pictured are Chris Ayres, OPEX Group and  Celine Delacroix, EY.
06/02/19
Picture by HEATHER FOWLIE
EY launching annual UK oilfield services report. Pictured are Chris Ayres, OPEX Group and Celine Delacroix, EY. 06/02/19 Picture by HEATHER FOWLIE

An Aberdeen firm is joining forces with an industrial behavioural psychologist to try to prevent fatal accidents in the North Sea.

Opex Group is developing a tool which combines data from diagnostic surveys with historical data on offshore accidents and spills which have previously been reported to the Heath and Safety Executive (HSE).

It is hoped the analysis will help operators and service companies to encourage behaviours that will avoid incidents which could lead to spillages or accidents on offshore rigs and ships.

Chris Flint, the HSE director of energy division, wrote to all North Sea operators last year to express concern about the number of spillages still occurring within the industry. He said some spills had come “perilously close to disaster” and called for companies to review their safety processes.

Chris Ayres, chief operating officer of Opex, said the firm has been working with Eugene Burke, a behavioural psychologist and people analytics expert, to develop the X-Pas Smart Behaviours tool. The project has been in development since 2017, when Opex took part in a “digital transformation” project at Aberdeen’s Oil and Gas Technology Centre.

He said: “Human behaviour is one of the factors that contributes to a safety culture and also to the overall level of safety incidents that occur offshore.

“There are still blind spots around these behaviours and this is what X-Pas Smart Behaviours service is designed to help with.”

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