Learning From Accidents or Learning Before Accidents

In this SPE Live, recorded at SPE’s Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, HSES Technical Director Sue Staley talks with Norman Ritchie, director at vPSI Group, about the industry transitioning to learning before accidents occur.

Oil Worker in Safety Gear at Well Pumpjack
Source: millraw/Getty Images

As an industry, we continually learn from operational upsets and incidents. Over time, we’ve become better and safer. The better we are, the fewer problems we have to learn from.

But the lack of accidents is not a good indicator of how safe we actually are. Typically, we think that, if a task is completed without an accident, it is a success. Only a very small percentage of all activities result in failure, and the vast majority are completed without any issues. Does that mean, however, that all activities that did not result in an accident were executed flawlessly? Rarely do we pay attention to how the activities were completed, what challenges were encountered, and if the seeds of a future incident were evident. The high-risk industries are observing a shift in focus, with more emphasis put on learning before accidents happen.

This video was first presented as an SPE Live event. More SPE Live videos can be found on the SPE Energy Stream.