Safety first

LR Senergy on ‘unhelpful’ core safety beliefs. APEGA fines CNRL for tank roof collapse.

A recent blog post by Garry Moon, occupational psychologist and principal consultant at LR Senergy describes how to help change unhelpful core beliefs that affect workplace safety. At a recent workshop, participants completed a ‘safety climate’ assessment to evaluate ‘chronic unease or complacency’ in their company. Nearly half did not feel a serious event could happen at their offshore workplace. Moreover, despite being the most aware group, senior personnel were also the most complacent. How could this be?

Paradoxically, the dissemination of information concerning trivial incidents (slips, trips and cuts) and weekly simulations of loss-of-containment scenarios led to a degree of risk desensitization, lessening the belief that something could go wrong, that a procedure could have an error in it, that safety systems could fail, or that people might make a mistake.

Such complacency needs to be addressed by propagating ‘what keeps us most safe, a continual wariness of the hazards, a sense of chronic unease.’ And an awareness that the goal of safety improvement is subject to confirmation bias. Even the most knowledgeable and well-meaning individuals, if too close to the initiative, will be blind to a loss of unease, seeing it instead as confidence and progress.


Apega, the Association of professional engineers and geoscientists of Alberta has announced its discipline decision for a 2007 tank-roof collapse at the Horizon oil sands project tank, a facility operated by Canada Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL). The roof-support structure failed during construction resulting in loss of life and injuries to workers. CNRL voluntarily admitted to unprofessional conduct in its engagement and supervision of contractors performing engineering work and has agreed to sanctions. In addition to a $10,000 fine, the maximum allowed under APEGA’s current legislation, CNRL will work with APEGA and fund development of a new practice standard on outsourcing engineering and geoscience work.

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