On 23 March 2005, a massive explosion and fires killed 15 people and injured another 180 at the BP Texas City Refinery, Texas. This disaster led to many investigation reports. It has been said that BP failed to learn from numerous warning signs that could have prevented the disaster. Many years later, I question how much wider industry has learnt - and provide a reflection toolkit based on 12 quotes from the investigations.
COVID-19: Mental wellbeing in the workplace
Frequent and rapid changes in workplaces around the world to control the coronavirus pandemic have the potential to harm the mental wellbeing of millions of people. Prior to the pandemic, mental health was a significant workplace issue and there will be significant increases in mental health issues due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, there are steps that employers can take to promote mental wellbeing in the workplace and this article outlines what organisations can do to create a mentally healthy workplace, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.
Chernobyl: The drama
This article was prompted by the 2019 television drama series 'Chernobyl', and focuses on human error, safety culture and designing for safety. It provides some discussion points to engage with your key stakeholders and to facilitate safety moments.
Human factors: Early influences
I was heavily influenced by a HSE publication 'Organising for Safety', led by Dr Donald Broadbent. This post provides a key conclusion from this report and considers its relevance over 20 years later.
Ten questions on organisational failures
Nimrod XV230 was due to a catalogue of organisational failures and the lessons are relevant to any high-hazard or complex organisation. In this article I provide ten questions to help stimulate discussion and reflection on leadership, culture and priorities.
Change is the only constant
Organisational change is inevitable, but does it have to lead to disaster? Whatever it is that defines 'safety' for your organisation, whether that is keeping chemicals in the pipes, keeping trains on the tracks, airplanes in the sky, or not harming patients; it is essential that any significant organisational changes are assessed for their impact on safety. This will include assessing changes to: roles and responsibilities, organisational structures, reporting relationships, staffing levels, staff location, outsourcing, use of contractors, delayering, downsizing and centralisation of functions. This article discusses two aspects of any change that need to be assessed and managed.
Normalisation of deviance
"Normalisation of deviance" is when deviations from agreed standards or working practices become incorporated into the routine. Small changes, slight deviations from the norm, gradually become the norm.
Here's some guidance on identifying and managing such deviations before they become the new 'normal'.
What can you learn from the Nimrod disaster?
The first of several articles related to organisational failures highlighted in The Nimrod Review
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