Are Oil and Gas Workers Sweeping Safety Issues Under the Rug?

Earlier this week, Global News released the results of an investigation revealing a culture of covering up safety incidents and blatantly lying on incident reports in the oil and gas industry. They spoke with various workers who said these practices were widespread and personally engaged in such activities.

A question on LinkedIn about whether these practices really were happening resulted in one individual who works in oil and gas in Calgary saying it was “100 per cent true” and other commenters echoing this sentiment. Additionally, the majority of the comments on Global’s online article also said this is common practice.

But the big reason is why is this happening? One individual commented on LinkedIn that these practices exist “anywhere you have a system that disciplines during reporting or for mistakes, or systems that reward for low or zero accidents.”

This should give all safety professionals pause to examine their reward and recognition programs for low or zero incidents. Is it inadvertently creating a culture where workers are not reporting incidents or downplaying their severity?

Frank Urquhart, quality, health, safety, and environment manager at Weatherford—a repeat winner of Canada’s Safest Employers awards—said there are instances in the oil and gas industry where workers are reluctant to speak up about safety issues because of fear of reprisal. He said it’s more likely to occur on the “bigger projects where a bonus may be reliant on safety performance.”

Additionally, peer pressure to keep the number of safety incidents low can contribute to workers brushing these instances under the rug.

“Some of the new workers that are joining the oil and gas sector work alongside some veterans, and I think they have a tough time using their voice when they think they should,” Urquhart said.

Read the full story here.

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