Behavioral Based Safety in the Oil & Gas Industry – Essay Example

Behavioral Based Safety in the Oil & Gas Industry – Essay Example

Critical Essay in Support of A Behavioral Based Safety Case Study in the Oil & Gas Industry

Introduction

The proposed project, ‘A Behavioural Based Safety Case Study in the Oil & Gas Industry’ is designed to assess an existing behavioural based safety (BBS) programme in an oil & gas organisation in Kazakhstan. The specific project under consideration was implemented beginning in 2003. Since that time, safety results have been poorer than expected. Thus, the proposed research project will attempt to analyse the BBS programme and determine why it has not performed well, and to generate recommendations for how to improve the programme. Research in safety training programmes in industry indicates that appropriately engaging training programs result in increased safety knowledge and improvements in safety behavior (Burke et al., 2006).

Recent workplace safety research suggests several possible explanations for the poor performance of the BBS system, including the possibilities that knowledge of safety procedures is not accurately or adequately conveyed to the workers, that workers are not motivated to follow safety procedures, that a group safety culture does not exist, or that there is a lack of individual safety consciousness (Christian et al., 2009). There may also be other explanations. It is hoped that this proposed project will determine which of these explanations, if any, apply in this instance.

The proposed research project will be a mixed method study. This approach has been shown to be of value in assessing BBS programmes, both in terms of assessing their statistical success in reducing accidents and safety incidents, and in terms of eliciting the attitudes and opinions of workers and management toward workplace safety in general and the BBS programme specifically.

Context

In the proposed BBS study, quantitative analysis can be used for some types of data such as the number of safety incidents in a given time, the relative severity (as measured both by work-hours lost as a result and the financial claims that result from the incident) and a statistical analysis of those data will determine trends. Quantitative methods are vulnerable to several types of errors however. One issue is that the most typical analysis of quantitative data is through statistics (Al-Hamdan & Anthony, 2010, 45-46).

Although statistics are useful to give broad spectrum of understanding for situations where there is a substantial population, statistics can be manipulated in ways that disguise or distort the actual data. Furthermore, quantitative measures are, by definition, objective. This means that they cannot necessarily handle issues that involve human behaviours or opinions with consistency. (Al-Hamdan & Anthony, 2010, 45-46).For that type of measure, it is necessary to move to more qualitative measures

Qualitative research methods are often used to capture more nuanced data regarding human experiences in the research study topic. Campbell & Roden (2010, 114-116) report that there are three basic types of qualitative research studies: phenomenology, ethnography, and grounded theory. In phenomenological approaches, the researcher remains an objective (as far as possible) outside observer as he or she makes an attempt to understand the study participants’ experiences in the domain of the topic. In an ethnographic approach, the researcher is immersed in the experience of the participants. In a grounded theory design, the research would begin by asking very general open-ended questions of the study participants. In such a study design, the collection of data, analysis of the data, and the construction of an applicable theory are all performed more or less at the same time in an iterative process that gradually focuses in on the final conclusions of the study (Campbell & Roden 2010, 114-116)).

Each of these qualitative methods have disadvantages as well as advantagest. For example, in the phenomenological approach really relies on the researcher maintaining an objective perspective. Phenomenological research methods also require trusting the research participants since their opinions constitute the raw data of the research. Similarly, in an ethnographic approach, by entering the system being measured, the researcher almost inevitably also develops personal relationships with the subjects of the study. Whether positive or negative in tone, those relationships are likely to distort the interpretation of the observations (Campbell & Roden, 2010, pp. 116-117).

A third, more general approach combines quantitative and qualitative approaches into a mixed method. Mixed method studies, if well designed, are more comprehensive than either quantitative or qualitative studies alone; they may also be more reliable and have greater validity (Campbell & Roden, 2010, p. 118).

Collins et al. (2006, 13) point out that one useful application of mixed methods research is in the generation of explanations. In the proposed BBS research project, one key goal is to generate an explanation for the subject programme’s actual results over the period from 2003 (when the programme was first initiated by the oil & gas company) to present; those results are in opposition to the expected results of the programme. Thus, a mixed method approach is optimal for this project.

Research Method for Proposed Project

Some aspects of the proposed research project readily adapt to quantitative measurement. This includes the actual numbers of safety-related incidents, plus details of those incidents (number of work hours lost, cost of the incident in financial claims, and so on). Such data can be culled from the company’s data bases (to which access has been granted by the company for the purpose of the proposed research project). Other quantitative data can be collected through questionnaires of workers and the use of Likert scales to quantify opinions and attitudes.

In addition to this quantitative data, however it will also be important to assess the human aspects of the BBS programme under study. In this case, a more qualitative approach will enable the researcher to discern in more detail the attitudes toward the program and elicit opinions from workers and the BBS observers regarding how the programme actually operates (as opposed to how it is supposed to operate). To accomplish this, one-on-one interviews with selected sample of the worker and supervisor population will be carried out to determine their opinions and attitudes toward workplace safety in general and the BBS programme specifically.

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