On April 21st 2010, at approximately 2:20 AM, CISM International was called by Transocean to provide Critical Incident Stress Management services to the survivors, their families, the families of the missing men and Transocean employees at 2 Houston locations. Sequestered in a New Orleans hotel for 4 days, I and 3 more CISM professionals, heard stories of both horror and heroism. However, an unusual pattern emerged from the debriefings. The intensity of the arousal from the event was based more in anger about what happened, rather than the more common fear of life and limb. This was a pattern that I had encountered before in my 12 years of responding to critical incidents in the drilling industry. That pattern suggests low Human Factor, or people skills, in the management of operations, how that pertains to safety performance and is most often ignored as a contributing root cause of accidents. This was further reinforced by the lack of human factor considerations given in the reports of the Deepwater Horizon incident. I believe that the Human Factor is a major missing piece in safety culture puzzle.

In order to validate what I was seeing, I developed and implemented a management training program and research study based on the principles of Emotional Intelligence. EI is a scientifically measurable and teachable set of ‘people skills’ that shows the relationship interactions you have with yourself, others and your environment. According to Daniel Goleman, a prime mover in the Emotional Intelligence field, the research shows that successful management requires 80% EI skills and 20% technical skills. This is just the opposite of what is the norm in many energy related industries where advancement is mostly achieved through technical skills.

Working with 3 energy sector companies in 2011-12, I've gathered data and results that are quite intriguing and promising in improving the safety culture in the energy industry. This presentation will cover a brief overview of CISM services, how and why human psychology affects safety performance and the research results of the Human Factor training program.

The training and research was conducted under strict confidentiality guidelines, which, I believe, led to more substantial and honest answers.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.