Energy Institute seeks PhD proposals to raise energy industry safety performance

November 11, 2014

The Energy Institute (EI) seeks PhD proposals into new research to help the energy industry improve its safety performance.  Tuition and subsistence fees will be available for a three year full time study to commence mid-2015, using profits from the sale of the Hearts and Minds safety culture toolkit (


The Hearts and Minds toolkit was developed by Shell, based on research funded between 1980 and 2000 (key texts referenced below).  The Toolkit was published by the EI in 2004, and is used extensively in the energy industry and other industries to help improve safety culture, by engaging the workforce to help improve behaviour.  Within the broad remit of safety culture, the Toolkit focuses on issues such as supervision skills, managing rule breaking, and risk assessment.

The EI is a non-profit organisation, and will use some of the profits from the sale of the Hearts and Minds Toolkit to fund new research to energy industry improve its safety performance.  This new research may potentially turn into a new tool and form part of the Toolkit.

Topic area

The broad theme of the research should be on improving health, safety, and environment (HSE) performance through culture and behaviour. Within that, there are no restrictions on the topic of the research, and projects from all disciplines will be considered (psychology, sociology, anthropology, etc.).  Example topics could include teamwork, the effects of bias on human performance, and decision making, but other original ideas would be very welcome.

Topics that tackle energy industry needs, have a practical application (e.g. adaptable to a tool), and show promise for improving energy industry HSE performance are most likely to be considered highly.

Proposal format

Proposals should:

  • Be set out clearly and succinctly, and be no more than 10 pages A4 in total.
  • Identify the proposed university of study.
  • Include a full CV of programme supervisor.
  • Include a full CV of the PhD candidate (if available).
  • Identify the level of engagement with industry (e.g. requiring just an external supervisor or also case study sites).
  • Describe the topic of study, the problem it intends to address, the hypothesis, the method of research, the expected deliverables, and a bibliography of key texts the project will draw upon.
  • Provide project cost, including tuition fees, student bursary, and disbursements.
  • Provide start/completion dates.

Selection criteria

Proposals that garner the interest of the EI’s industry partners will be shortlisted, at which stage the selection may be narrowed further through interview.  Only one study can be funded, with an expected start date of mid 2015.

Submittal instructions

Please submit your proposal, via email (PDF or MS Word document) to Stuart King e: tel: +44 (0)207 467 7163

Closing date for submission is 15th December 2014

New clothing policy for those travelling offshore by helicopter in the UK, from October 1st 2014

September 15, 2014

The Step Change in Safety Passenger Size workgroup has created a standardised clothing policy which sets out guidance on what should be worn under a survival suit when travelling offshore in a helicopter.   The policy will be effective from Wednesday, 1st October 2014 and should be observed by all workers travelling to installations in UK waters.  Information will be available at UK heliports that support the oil and gas sector.  Step Change in Safety has provided a poster for download and distribution here outlining the clothing allowed to be worn.

Distractions at work lead to poor performance

August 8, 2014

A recent study by George Mason University (here) tested the effects of distractions on people producing written essays. Those who suffered distractions produced less words over the same period of time and their work was graded lower in quality. An interview with the researcher can be found here, who suggests we should actively try to minimise the opportunity for disruption to our work.

Whilst this may be unsurprising to many, do most organisations actively consider ways to minimise distractions to employees?


HSE incident data for offshore wind sector now available

July 18, 2014

The G9 Offshore Wind Health and Safety Association (G9), supported by the Energy Institute (EI), has published its first annual incident data report. This publication gives a comprehensive insight into the health and safety performance of the G9 members from 35 sites spread across the United Kingdom and Northern Europe.

The offshore wind industry has seen impressive growth in recent years as demand for low carbon electricity increases. Working in an offshore environment means that health and safety has to be a priority and there is an expectation that the industry will demonstrate, and improve, its health and safety performance. Benj Sykes, Chairman, G9 Board of Directors, and UK Country Manager, DONG Energy Wind Power, says, ‘Within the G9 member companies, health and safety is of utmost importance. The publication of this report is pivotal and the first step to laying a foundation in which we can begin to measure, manage and continuously improve our health and safety performance more effectively.’ Since its formation in 2010, the G9 has been collecting HSE information and statistics from its members for analysis: the publication of this report fulfils a G9 objective to be transparent and to reduce HSE risks in the offshore wind industry. Through the EI, the G9 are committed to publishing incident data reports on an annual basis in order to identify trends, areas of improvement and to allow for benchmarking performance against other industries. This report highlights that there were 616 reported incidents in 2013 with the following consequences:

  • 66 lost work days
  • 12 restricted work days
  • 30 medical treatment injuries
  • 61 first aid incidents
  • 345 near hits
  • 102 hazards

The G9 went into partnership with the EI in 2013 to develop good practice guidelines which will improve health and safety performance in the offshore wind industry. The incident data has been essential in informing the development of these guidelines, which G9 will be publishing later in 2014. For more information, please visit

Helicopter safety reports published

July 17, 2014

The UK House of Commons Transport Committee has published its report into offshore helicopter safety available here.  The report acts as a companion to the technical report conducted by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (here), focusing on the May 2012 Aberdeen, and August 2013 Shetland Super Puma helicopter incidents, where both helicopters were ditched into the sea after coolant failures.

The Government report notes:

  • problems with the safety briefings provided to passengers, where the passengers chose not to use the emergency breathing system, based on what they were told during the pre-flight briefing, and
  • a ‘culture of bullying’, where staff concerns over the safety of the helicopters were ignored (although no evidence was found to suggest the Super Pumas are less safe than other helicopters).

The Government has asked for a further report from the Civil Aviation Authority as to why more helicopter incidents are reported in Norway than in the UK.  The Government also notes that the impact of commercial pressure on helicopter safety has not been looked at in enough detail, due to commercial sensitivities making it difficult to see the contractual obligations being placed on helicopter providers.

Learning from incidents seminar series

June 16, 2014

Effective learning from incidents (LFI) is critical for employees’ safety and environmental protection. Yet little is known about what constitutes ‘effective’ LFI and how to achieve it. Here, Glasgow Caledonian University’s Anoush Margaryan and Allison Littlejohn, and the Energy Institute’s Stuart King, explain.

Learning from incidents (LFI) is important across a range of industries and is relevant for professional and government bodies and third-sector organisations concerned about health and safety. Industrial incidents cause injury, loss of life and environmental degradation – of particular concern to major hazard industries like the energy industry. However, after incident investigation has taken place, LFI initiatives tend to focus too much on the dissemination of information, assuming that access to incident-related information will lead to organisational learning and behavioural change. Yet research into adult learning demonstrates that access to information does not necessarily lead to learning. To learn effectively, people and organisations must have opportunities for reflection and making sense of information by relating and integrating it within their everyday work context.

LFI initiatives in organisations seldom integrate reflection and sense-making opportunities. A key problem is that LFI has been limited to safety science and engineering. Theories and insights from adult learning and other relevant social sciences have seldom been applied to LFI. Also, integration of research and practice in LFI has been poor. To improve our understanding of LFI, an interdisciplinary, inter-sectoral approach bringing together scholars from relevant disciplines with stakeholders from the industry, professional bodies and the government is critical. To address these gaps, an international seminar series – ‘Inter-disciplinary perspectives on learning from incidents’ – is currently being organised. The first of its kind in the world, the series brings together practitioners and policymakers with scholars from a range of disciplines to provide new learning approaches and change methods that can be applied by organisations to improve health and safety across a range of industries. The seminar series is led by the Caledonian Academy, a research centre for Technology-enhanced Professional Learning at Glasgow Caledonian University (, in collaboration with scholars from the universities of Aberdeen, Southampton, Edinburgh and Loughborough (UK), Trento (Italy), Helsinki (Finland), and Valencia (Spain), as well as stakeholders from the private and public sectors including senior representatives from the UK’s Energy Institute, the British Safety Council and the Health and Safety Executive. These people represent a range of disciplines spanning adult and organisational learning, sociology, industrial psychology and human factors engineering. Businesses represented within the seminars come from the energy, construction, transport, healthcare and finance sectors and include BP, ConocoPhillips, Costain Group, E.ON, Phillips66, Pinsent Masons and TC Global.

Seminar objectives

The aims of the seminar series are to:

  • Bring together scholars, practitioners and policymakers in order to advance the theory and methodology of LFI and to inject fresh conceptual ideas and innovative methods into the current approaches to LFI.
  • Facilitate a mutual learning process and the joint development of ideas across different disciplines, between researchers and key stakeholders from industry, professional bodies, the third sector and the government.
  • Strengthen the relationship between theory, practice and policy in LFI, ultimately in order to inform organisational strategies for better LFI.
  • Develop an inter-disciplinary research and development agenda in LFI, by providing the networking for industry-academia collaborations in this area, in order to bolster the UK performance in health and safety.
  • Disseminate awareness of research on LFI to a wide range of industries, organisations and policymakers and bring about the impact of research in LFI.

The seminar series will have an anticipated short- to medium-term impact through participants’ exposure to innovative, inter-disciplinary insights from a range of fields they do not yet engage in, triggering novel applications within their own context. Joint knowledge development by industry and policy executives with scholars means that the knowledge has a solid practical and theoretical basis, improving the likelihood of adoption and application of research in real-world settings. Anticipated longterm impacts include enhancement of the health and well-being of employees; improved economic performance, through enhanced individual, group and organisational LFI; and increased effectiveness of LFI policy, through better-quality conceptualisation and research-based evidence. The final outputs include a roadmap for future research and development in LFI, and an edited book with LFI case studies from the private and public sector alongside research-focused contributions.

Upcoming 2014–2015 Seminars

  • 15 October 2014, University of Southampton: LFI Methodologies
  • February 2015, Energy Institute, London: Practice and policy in LFI
  • June 2015, British Safety Council, London: Research-practice nexus in LFI
  • October 2015, Glasgow Caledonian University: LFI roadmap

Seminars are free to attend thanks to financial support from the UK Economic and Social Research Council. For further details and to register visit

Obituary: Trevor Kletz (1922 – 2013)

November 7, 2013

Renowned safety expert Trevor Kletz passed away on 31 October 2013, aged 91.

Trevor Kletz was one of industry’s most respected figures following a celebrated career as an industry safety advisor, lecturer and writer.

Trevor worked for ICI between 1944 and 1982.  In 1968 he was appointed as one of the process industry’s first technical safety advisors, advising designers and operators about how to avoid hazardous process plant accidents.   During this time ICI developed Hazard and Operability Studies (HAZOP), which Trevor was an enthusiastic advocate of, and he authored the first book on the subject, Hazop and Hazan.

Trevor built a second career as a process safety consultant, writer and lecturer after leaving ICI. He was elected a Fellow of IChemE in 1978, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1984 and awarded an OBE for services to process safety in 1997.   Trevor authored 14 books and more than 100 peer-reviewed papers on process safety, including:

  • Lessons from disaster – How organisations have no memory and accidents recur
  • What went wrong?: Case histories of process plant disasters and how they could have been avoided
  • An engineer’s view of human error

Trevor remained active professionally until earlier this year where a formal retirement reception was staged at IChemE’s Hazards 23 conference in Southport, UK.

HSE Chair Judith Hackitt said “Trevor’s impact on industry was striking. His ability to convey safety information succinctly, and effectively, was central to his success.”

As a process safety pioneer, Trevor Kletz undoubtedly saved lives, and inspired others to do the same.