Aberdeen Business School identifies safety ‘information gap’

Aveva-sponsored study finds poor training and lack of clarity in HSE procedures and documentation.

An Aveva-sponsored study by Professor Rita Marcella and Tracy Pirie of the Aberdeen Business School at Robert Gordon University, has investigated the health and safety ‘information gap.’ The headlines from the report are reassuring, 92% reported that their company has an information system to support health and safety and 80% described these systems as ‘uniform and consistent across the organization.’ Over 80% of respondents felt that the systems providing core metrics for safety management, ‘supported them in assessing and improving safety and in responding to an emergency.’

However, over 30% had never received training on how to access information needed to operate safely. Respondents found that accessing information was challenging due to systems failures, procedures not covering specific circumstances, filing issues, missing data, poor local communications infrastructure, complex systems and information overload. A similar proportion of respondents reported a lack of clarity in the safety information provided and the circumstances in which it should be used. 40% felt that information systems and information quality needed improvement. 35% were aware of incidents where they or their colleagues had not recorded information related to near misses.

Whilst respondents were typically confident that they were sharing information with others, 24% felt that relevant information was not being shared back! Respondents felt a need for more open communication across the industry of knowledge as to where things had gone wrong, as well as what ‘best practice’ actually means.

The efficacy of corporate commitment to safety was questioned. Some feel that safety may still be secondary to compliance or reputational imperatives, ‘despite the rhetoric.’ Safety processes comply with regulations, but there is confusion in regard to regulatory standards. It can be challenging to work for multiple clients with different systems and expectations as to how data would be presented. This can require significant resources, particularly when dealing with environmental regulations and risk. Interviewees highlighted a tension between the high expectations of extra information need encountered during an incident and what is seen by many staff as the burden and sheer scale of documentation with which they have to deal on a day to day basis. More from www.oilit.com/links/1109_16.

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