Tag Archives: Zero Harm

Turning Apples into Bananas: How Big Data undermines safety and what can be done about it?

An able seaman has been ‘reprimanded’ for leaving the gangway hanging out while the vessel was shifting berth. Root cause – ‘lack of awareness’; corrective action – ‘risk assessment’. A third officer has been served a warning letter for missing out on monthly checks on a fire extinguisher resulting in non-conformance during a safety audit. Root cause – ‘complacency’; corrective action – ‘follow the procedures’. A crew member trips over an obstruction on deck and hurts himself. Root … Continue Reading ››

Oil and gas safety in a post-truth world

I spoke at the Oil and Gas Task Force Zero conference 2018 not long ago. Taking the motto of the conference, “Face the Facts,” to heart, I walked the audience through a bunch of recent data from a range of industries on the relationship between injuries/incidents and fatalities. As we have long known (and as has been confirmed by Macondo, Texas City and other disasters in the industry), there is of course no meaningful relationship between … Continue Reading ››

Safety Perspectives and Running

UntitledDuring a running training with 15 fellow runners, we had a half hour work-out on stairs that ran along the fire station of my hometown (see picture). The question that arose, after having done this intense but fulfilling training, was about safety. Was this a safely performed training exercise? And this depends a lot on your definition of safety. I will approach this question using the two perspectives Safety I and Safety II. Safety as the absence of … Continue Reading ››

Let’s talk about success

spanner2Look at the man in the picture to the right. He is fastening a bolt using a spanner. To get more torque he has done what is common practice in industry – he has taken a piece of pipe to extend the handle, this is often called a cheater bar. Put differently, he has adapted the standard that was provided to him. When everything is going well we’d like to believe that it is because organisations … Continue Reading ››

Zero pessimism

file000637574664The Enlightenment once suggested that if we are smart, if we think harder about a problem with those minds we can trust, then we can make the world a better place, we can constantly improve it. Modernism says that technical-scientific rationality can create that better, safer, more predictable, more controllable world for us. We might achieve workplaces without injuries, incidents or accidents. If, for example, we plan the work carefully, if we design well and train, discipline, … Continue Reading ››