Interview with Dr Robin Bryden – Part 6/6: Case studies

April 21, 2011

In the final part of this interview, Dr Robin Bryden reflects on some of the major successes in improving safety where Hearts and Minds has been used. Given the nature of the toolkit, Robin highlights how sometimes it is difficult to measure the real impact of Hearts and Minds whilst raising standards, particularly when some of the activities become intrinsically linked and connected to standard practices:

 “The most recent Hearts and Minds success story comes from the SEPC facility in Singapore (see Petroleum Review May 2010 issue). However, Nigeria was always very successful.  They did a lot of work with Hearts and Minds in Nigeria– in fact Shell appointed a dedicated Hearts and Minds manager responsible across all of Africa.  This person championed Hearts and Minds and worked hard to make it sustainable, getting it embedded into the line and then continued to get a sustained good performance.  One of the most memorable events for me was in Nigeria, and I was in what is essentially a swamp area watching the workshop supervisor run an exercise from Working safely with a piece of chalk – there was no electricity at that point, and this supervisor was working with a group of welders doing a hazard spotting exercise, marking hazards on the side of a wall with some chalk, and these guys were identifying the hazards around the workplace.  I thought to myself “Well, that’s brilliant”; no appliances involved, and on the face of it a very low level of technology being used, but these guys had better hazard recognition than you find in many European workplaces.  It’s nice to see something you worked on be used like that, it’s very humbling.

In Asia, particularly in Malaysia and Brunei, they have had a lot of success with Hearts and Minds.  I think they are among the best performers in Shell, and they’ve been using Hearts and Minds since the beginning.  But they started very slowly, very steadily, they didn’t try to do too much at once and they slowly changed some of the things they were doing.  Over time the Hearts and Minds terminology got into the language and formed part of their training.  For example, Improving supervision was a big success there.  The managers/supervisors would identify the level of skill and competence of their team, as well as the level of their motivation, and they would then identify the best management style to suit their team’s competence and skill.  This is only one element of one tool, but it’s formed a big part of their leadership training – if you go to any manager in the Asia Pacific region and ask them about this concept, they’ll tell you where their teams fall and which leadership styles are most appropriate.  That has become ingrained in management development.

Whilst we can see that performance has improved, it is hard to quantify success, and harder still to pin it down purely to Hearts and Minds.  You always want to see that you are improving, but managing safety is a dynamic thing and involves managing a massive amount of stuff.  If you watch a duck swimming upstream it looks so graceful on the surface, but its little legs are kicking like mad under the surface.  The company I am Safety Manager in, Sakhalin Energy, has turned around its Safety Performance now and seen an incredible improvement, and part of that is to do with Hearts and Minds, but we’re also doing a lot of other things as well.  Good performance depends on a number of factors coming together, and then to consistently keep on doing it.  You can do all the right things 99% of the time and that 1% will catch you out and you’ll have an incident. 

I’ll give you an example.  We’d made a lot of improvements throughout most of Sakhalin, however this one piece of the organisation, for multiple reasons, didn’t go on the same cultural improvement journey the rest of the organisation did.  It was piece of the organisation that, within a $20 billion project, was very low on money, low exposure in terms of man hours, but still involved risk, and they were so small they just slipped under the radar and did not get the same level of attention that we gave the other areas of the company.  It was only after they had two nasty incidents last year, both involving companies working for this small project, when this came to light.  One of the incidents had the potential to kill somebody and the other one resulted in someone losing a finger.  On the second incident, I got involved in the investigation myself, and I realised they were working without a permit to work system.  They were working with 100% compliance with the Russian system which only specifies that you need a permit to work system when working with very heavy lifts or high voltage, but they weren’t working to our standards, largely because we had not included them in our larger improvement plans.  So although we’d done a lot of work with major projects, we’d suddenly realised that there were small projects out there that could still be having incidents and we might not know.  It’s not that straightforward to measure the improvement that a HSE improvement project such as Hearts and Minds has been having, because it may be being applied differentially around the company, but it is certainly possible to look for the evidence, especially where Hearts and Minds hasn’t been applied.”

Our thanks go to Dr Robin Bryden for sharing his thoughts and experiences with the EI during his recent visit to the UK.

Click here to read part 5 of this interview.

Interview with Dr Robin Bryden – Part 5/6: Using Hearts and Minds at Sakhalin Energy

April 20, 2011

In part 5 of this interview, Dr Robin Bryden shares his experiences of using Hearts and Minds at Sakhalin Energy (where he is currently Head of Safety), highlighting how using the toolkit can engage contracting companies and how the company is beginning to see improvements in safety: 

“At Sakhalin Energy we are using the tools, although in some novel ways.  

What the Hearts and Minds tools do is give you a structure to identify the problem or the current state to better understand the situation, and they provide a structure for people to come up with some answers.  All of the Hearts and Minds tools do that in a different way, but targeted to specific activities – so Driving for excellence does that with driving, Improving supervision does that with Supervisors, SAFE does that for senior managers, and Understanding your culture does that using questions surrounding different cultures.  

Understanding your culture

At Sakhalin, we generally use Understanding your culture at Manager Director level, with some input from the workforce.  However, we’ve also developed a new workshop for use with our contractors to agree an action plan for Sakhalin Energy and the contractor company itself.  Some of the international companies are quite used to this sort of thing, but this is unfamiliar for some of the smaller family-run Russian businesses as they have had little exposure to big companies in the last few years.  For them it is a completely alien experience to come in and talk about health checkups, so the Understanding your culture workshop gets them up to speed with our expectations in a very user friendly way, and they are really enjoying it.  They also find it useful because they realise that some of their competitors are still at the lower levels of safety culture, and they can recognise that they have been there (and probably still are) but are now improving.  They can see themselves as ‘Reactive’ in their culture, and they’re very pleased to recognise that, and that gives us a topic of conversation.  I’m using Understanding your culture at the moment in a slightly different way because I want to bring some groups together – I want to bring the contractors and contract holders together to gain a shared understanding of what the issues are.  So I use it not just as a tool for me to diagnose or to convince management of the need to improve, but also to bring people together. 

Working safely

We also have intervention training (training staff to intervene in safety issues they have seen) for all staff and contractors which we now deliver to our contractors and subcontractors before they even join the workforce; that way they know our expectations before they turn up.  The intervention training was based on the recognition that just having spot cards does not really work for us.  Although we use the DuPont  Intervention cards, we don’t find them suitable for our needs.  The spotter cards have been around a very long time, they’re a very American way of doing things and it wasn’t working for us in Russia, so we created an intervention programme based on the Working safely tool.  We also used Working safely to give training for all our front line supervisors on how to run a toolbox talk.  

Driving for excellence

Driving is one of the most hazardous parts of our activities at Sakhalin, mainly due to poor road conditions.  Our defensive driving training is based on the Driving for excellence tool.  A recent independent audit identified our driving training as the best in its class; it was very nice to get that recognition.  Last year, as a joint venture, we won the Shell award for our improved performance, but even better than that we’ve gone from 11 deaths on the road in 5 years to none in the last 2. 

Achieving situation awareness

We also use Achieving situation awareness (the ‘rule of three’).  The rule of three is absolutely embedded in our journey management.  We’ve taken the concept and applied it to go/no go decisions on whether we allow people to drive.  For every single journey that anyone makes in the company we have to ask “can this journey take place?” – that obviously has cost benefits, and it has massive safety benefits too, because one of the best ways to prevent road accidents is to not have somebody driving.  We’ve reduced the quantity of journeys, reduced the exposure to danger, and part of how we make decisions on which journeys to go out on is based on the rule of three from Achieving situation awareness.  

I almost forgot to mention Achieving situation awareness. It’s actually a very important tool we use, but it’s easy to forget because people don’t even know it’s there as it’s completely embedded by staff.  Everybody uses the rule of three every day without even knowing they’re doing it, which is perfect as we’ve bagged a major win for us – safety is one of our biggest improvement areas.  Similarly, with the Driving for excellence material, nobody really knows they’re doing Hearts and Minds, they just think they’re doing driver training, and the drivers love it.  The normal way of teaching is very much lecturing – one way traffic – and the Heart and Minds tools are very much interactive.  The revelation with Hearts and Minds is really asking people for their views, and making people feel valued.  It’s a different way of doing things, and its working very well for us.

Apart from Understanding your culture, which we use mainly at Manager Director level (with a bit of input from the Workforce level), we are using all the other tools very much at workforce and frontline supervisor level, and current progress is to include thousands more front line supervisors in this training in the next 6 months and put something in place to make it more sustainable.  To do this, we need to make people feel that not only are they receiving this training, but that their boss, and their boss’s boss are also involved in this ongoing coaching.  This changes their understanding of what we’re doing and why their doing it and also of their role, so that the Hearts and Minds teachings become embedded and sustained.”

Click here to read part 4 of the interview.

EI will be at Hazards XXII – 12-14 April

April 11, 2011

The EI will be both exhibiting and co-presenting papers at IChemE’s Hazards XXII conference in Liverpool, 12-14 April 2011.  Presentations include:

  • Guidance on human factors safety critical task analysis – launch of a new guidance document, prepared by DNV (2pm Wednesday)
  • Key performance measures for human factors in major hazard industries – launch of a joint EI/HSE/Lloyds Register research report (4.30pm Wednesday)
  • Key factors in effective approaches to learning from safety incidents in the workplace – Hearts and Minds funded research, presented by Glasgow Caledonian University (10am Thursday).

Please do not hestitate to drop by our exhibition stand.  We hope to see you there.

Case study: derailment caused by ‘understaffing and low morale’

April 8, 2011

The derailment of an engineering train took place on the London Underground between Earl’s Court and Gloucester Road stations on 12 May 2010.  According to the Rail Accident Investigation Report that was released recently, the train derailed because the track was in such a poor state that it shifted and collapsed under the weight of the train.  “The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said understaffing and low morale led to the track not being maintained as it should have been.” BBC News

This case study highlights the continued importance of staffing arrangements as a safety consideration for industry.  The EI has a dedicated webpage listing pertinent resources to aid companies manage staffing, including its publication EI Safe staffing arrangementsuser guide for CRR348/2001 methodology: Practical application of Entec/HSE process operations staffing assessment methodology and its extension to automated plant and/or equipmentThe EI has also produced a briefing note on organisational change (with a new edition soon to be published) to help companies manage change, such as changes to staffing levels. 

The suggestion in the report that ‘low morale’ also played a part in the incident is harder to fully understand without knowing what caused morale to be low in the first place, and what bearing that had on the incident.  Inadequate staffing levels may lead to low morale through over-working of staff and fatigue, which in turn can lead to stress.  Other causes can also include poor leadership, worksite conditions, as well as personal stress factors; all of these issues should be managed.  The EI’s Briefing notes cover many of these, and there are more resources available from the EI human factors website which cover particular topics in detail. 

Event: Ergonomics & Human Factors 2011 (April 12 – 14)

April 1, 2011

The Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (IEHF) is holding its annual conference in April.  This 3-day event will feature invited lecturers, plenary speakers and parallel sessions covering a broad array of human factors and ergonomics topics, including transport, design, safety, manufacturing, computing and human factors integration: it promises to be a fascinating exploration of human factors led by some of the world’s top academics.  

Visit the conference website for more information.