Promoting safety in the energy industry is the responsibility of its leadership, says renowned author

Enform’s Executive Summit focuses on the importance of creating a safety culture

Developing a culture of safety within Canada’s energy sector is the responsibility of everyone in an organization from senior management to front-line workers, says renowned author Andrew Hopkins, the keynote speaker at Enform’s 4th Annual Executive Summit, held in Calgary.

“Very little happens that is absolutely unforeseeable,” says Hopkins, adding the objective of executives and senior management should be to put in place processes and practices that create a “risk-aware organization”.

“You have to start at the top with CEOs and executive committees. They have to be educated and understand their role in relation to safety, and that needs to cascade downwards to front-line staff,” said Hopkins.

Hopkins was speaking to more than 100 executive and senior management, gathered to discuss the importance of enhancing and promoting strong safety cultures. The annual summit provides industry leaders with the opportunity to share experiences and learn how to implement safety best practices. “Safety should be integrated into an organization from the leaders down,” added speaker Jim Ellis, president and CEO of the Alberta Energy Regulator. “Oil and gas leaders are responsible for building safety-first cultures. Leaders need to walk-the-walk and be role models for on-ground employees so employees are empowered to report and stop something unsafe when they see it.”

Hopkins, the author of six books, including Disastrous Decisions: the Human and Organizational Causes of the Gulf of Mexico Blowout, shared his theory on “cultures of denial” – a set of beliefs that enables workers to ignore the significance of warning signs of a looming incident or accident.

“Some organizations don’t believe that incidents can happen in their organizations, or they normalize the signs that something is wrong,” said Hopkins. Hopkins said organizations should put in place reporting systems and incentives such that employees are encouraged to report unsafe practices.

“If a reporting system works well, it creates a culture of ownership,” he said.

Cameron MacGillivray, president and CEO of Enform, said creating a robust safety culture goes beyond removing hazards and institutionalizing safety procedures. “It’s about working with people to change their attitudes, behaviors and thoughts, and improve awareness about workplace situations and risks.”

The Executive Summit is held in conjunction with Enform’s Annual Petroleum Safety Conference in Banff, Alberta. This year’s safety conference runs May 5 – 8.

About Enform

Enform supports and promotes the highest safety standards in Canada’s upstream oil and gas industry through innovative training, certifications, services and resources. We work with our clients and partners to ensure that everyone goes home safely every day.

 

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