Safety results within the oil & gas industry have shown continuous improvement in the last decade, with particular focus placed on the equipment and process elements. The challenges faced in reaching and maintaining a zero incident work environment will now hinge around managing the "human factor" whilst also maintaining the equipment and process standards achieved to date. To influence the results we will have to influence the people.

In 1999, we presented a paper in the Aberdeen SPE conference based upon a proactive observation and feedback process - people were the focus. In 2004, at the SPE Calgary SPE conference we presented a paper on Performance Leadership Coaching, again focusing on the potential of fully appreciating the human factor.

Now, after extensive research and testing involving over 2000 workers, the ability to better manage the "human factor" has been uncovered, and a method for practical application established using the "e- colours process". We have developed and refined a process for using personality traits, not only as a communication tool but also as a risk management tool. This methodology is being tried and tested offshore today.

It has always been stated that there is no "silver bullet" when it comes to safety. Yet we all seek the next step change in safety excellence and the results that goal implies. If indeed we are to make the paradigm shift required then it will only come through taking the time and effort to understand human being's actions and reactions, in a context that any roustabout, roughneck or supervisor, can appreciate while working on the job at hand.

What has become evident through our extensive research in the field, offshore, is a clear picture of an element that has eluded us in the past.

People of the same personality traits and tendencies (identified by us using the e-colours) do in fact, have the same approach to safety and their perception of risk tolerance, even to a point of predicting, when asked, how they could get hurt.

This process very much supports the ethos of the SPE conference which is founded upon "Living and Working in Harmony". This can only be achieved by understanding the people with whom we work.

We have some clear examples of how this process works and indeed how lives could have been saved if utilised.


It is often said that in any form of business that "It always was about people and it always will be about people" and this paper is indeed, all about people.

In the last 25 – 30 years as our industry has matured and developed, both plant and processes have dramatically improved. Technological improvements have led to more efficient and achievable schedules and time lines. Processes and management systems have been better defined and refined, certainly following the aftermath of Piper Alpha. The majority of companies within the Oil and Gas Industry, have in one form or another also "wet their toes" in the world of "behaviour based safety programs and processes". And now, it would appear that most organizations have reached a level of safety results that has to a certain degree, become "as good as we can get" - plateaued. Not a perfect safety environment by far, yet unsure of what it is going to take to get people to the next level of safety awareness and to that "magic 0". No incidents - no accidents, day after day, after day.

Over the last few years, we have been developing a "leading edge" process into an effective and efficient tool that we believe can and will, make a significant difference to organizations that are mature enough in their culture to take that "next step".

We call the process "Colors in Action".
Statement of theory

If we trace back in our history books, we will find that both Hippocrates and Galen stated over two thousand tears ago that people have within them four fluids which they named "humors".They said that these fluids controlled our temperament and tendencies as human beings. The four humors were named as sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic and melancholic. Many centuries later, in the early 1920's, Carl Jung stated that people basically fell into four categories, in other words their tendencies made them act, generally in one of the following four character styles : director, thinker, socialiser and guardian.

In the New Scientist magazine in September 2003 there was an article published that reinforced our developing beliefs in behavioural predictability. The article concluded that neuroscientists believe that they are starting to find real biological differences that account for the observed differences in personality traits.

In other words in a span of two thousand years the scientists agree with the psychologists and, from our observations, we fully agree with both.

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