08 July, 2015
“And now that the price of crude has collapsed, many in the Bakken fear that the pressure to put speed before safety will only increase.” – PBS Newshour
Recently, PBS Newshour featured a piece exploring the 74 fatalities suffered in the Bakken oil fields since the boom there in 2006. The story specifically focuses on the fate of 21 year old Brendan Wegner, an electrical lineman who lost his life on a rig in the area when a blowout occurred.
You can view the video here.
One strong claim the story poses states that, referring to the spate of deaths in North Dakota, “major oil companies, which have most profited from the boom, often evade accountability when accidents happen.”
Major oil companies, which have most profited from the boom, often evade accountability when accidents happen.
This piece is a must watch for many reasons, and here are two:
It is both a cautionary tale and a real life testament to the levels of consequence we are facing in today’s world of safety. The situation is very sobering—these pressures are everywhere, not just in North Dakota, and the problems can be even more complex in other areas.
For all of us involved in evolving Safety Leadership, the implications made in the piece are too great to ignore: blame, accusations of lacking accountability, diminished value for safety. Of course, this is only one side of the story. But as we have all seen in our own careers, these implications have proven true elsewhere.
Please watch the video, and consider some of the following questions:
The tendency to “fix” a problem often has us looking for a root cause and who to blame. This can make it difficult to assess the complex nature of a situation, including the many unexamined factors that came into play along the way. What other factors might have come into play that were not taken into consideration by this video?
What can an organization do to ensure that safety stays a priority in times of heightened production pressures?
What more might we learn if, instead of asking Who did it?, or Who was at fault?, we were to ask How could this have happened?, and What can we do now to prevent the unexpected in the future?
For us to address the issues we face in today’s complex world, it really is going to take our collective wisdom. I welcome your answers to these questions, and any other thoughts and comments you might have.