Safety still not good enough

IMPROVEMENT NEEDED: Rita Marcella, dean of Aberdeen Business School, led research into information on health and safety in oil and gas
IMPROVEMENT NEEDED: Rita Marcella, dean of Aberdeen Business School, led research into information on health and safety in oil and gas

ABERDEEN Business School (ABS) has carried out key research into the role of information systems in enhancing health and safety in the oil and gas industry.

And while more than 92% of the 374 respondents reported that their company had an information system to support health and safety, and more than 80% described these systems as uniform across the organisation, management’s commitment to safety was still seen to be wonting.

Another major issue identified by the ABS research, led by Professor Rita Marcella, ABS dean, focuses on individuals taking responsibility for their own safety.

“The tension between these two priorities would suggest disagreement about where the problem and the solution might lie: is it with the company leadership or the individual?” the ABS team said in their initial findings.

“There was also a wide belief that increased competency at every level in companies is required.

“Improvements in processes and documentation were also felt necessary by some.

“Although some respondents cited improved information flow across the supply chain, there were others who felt that there were still real challenges and a lack of communication, not just externally but also internally (29.4%).

“Equally, for over a quarter of respondents, there remain difficulties in accessing information to operate safely and almost 30% felt there were deficiencies in their company’s recording and provision of information relating to health and safety.

“Most notably, perhaps over 35% were personally aware of incidents where they or their colleagues had not recorded information related to, for example, near misses.

“While respondents were typically confident that they were sharing information with others, 24% felt that relevant information was not being shared with them.

“This highlights the impact culture has on data recording and sharing.”

Information is central to some of the improvement areas cited, with the move towards behavioural and competency issues aligned with the expression of a need for employee feedback (64.7%), competency assessment (57.4%) and level of employee competence (56.8%) featuring as desired information sources.

The concerns came to the fore despite the fact that health and safety information systems appear to be extensively used.

Information systems provide the core for managing the metrics applied by companies to safety, including: number of recordable and non-recordable incidents (83%); the amount of lost work time (79.9%); the number of high risk potential incidents and so on.

Companies are also seeking to measure behavioural aspects of safety.

Improving safety behaviour was the top priority for most companies represented (66%).

Further research is ongoing through critical incident case studies.

It is hoped they will provide a deeper understanding of real-life incidents, their subsequent impact and key findings.

The full results of the research, sponsored by engineering and software design solutions company Aveva, will be reported at a panel debate by key industry figures on September 1.

It will be held at Aberdeen Business School.

Anyone interested in attending should contact Matt Wren by e-mail at:

Alternatively, visit