Influencing Human Behavior: Toward a Practical Approach for E&P
- W.A. Wagenaar (Leiden U.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- November 1992
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,258 - 1,261
- 1992. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 6.1 HSSE & Social Responsibility Management, 4.3.4 Scale, 6.1.5 Human Resources, Competence and Training, 4.5 Offshore Facilities and Subsea Systems
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Human behavior can be influenced in six ways. Of these methods, only changing the work environment is cost-effective; the others are either ineffective or too expensive. TRIPOD failure-state profiles indicate which aspects of the environment can best be changed.
All accidents are preceded by an unsafe act. Maybe the person did not realize it at the time, but if he or she had not acted a particular way, the accident would not have happened. Much of accident prevention is aimed at influencing this critical bit of human behavior, so the art of influencing human behavior is of interest to safety management. Psychologists have devoted much thought to how human behavior is best influenced and have had some bitter disappointments. What have they learned, and how can this knowledge be applied to E&P?
Six Ways To Induce Safe Behavior
Table 1 shows six ways that safe behavior can be induced on the shop floor. Before discussing the six options in detail, I will point out the conclusion: there is no magical trick in the psychologist's bag that will perform miracles for you at a low price. In fact, only one of these options will have an acceptable impact, and it is often not cost-effective. That is, a solution exists, but it does not come cheaply. The reason is that, after a reasonable amount of attention has been given to safety in E&P, all measures that produce large effects at low costs have been implemented, with or without psychologists. Those measures have produced a major decline in accident rates; now you are concerned with the remaining incidents, which still cause considerable losses in terms of lives, health, production means, and productivity. But it will be increasingly difficult and costly to eliminate accidents that survived earlier safety measures. Table 1 does not illustrate how effective the six ways are in general, but how effective they are in terms of where you stand in 1992.
1. Don't induce safe behavior, but make the system foolproof. If you allow all types of unsafe behavior, and hope that you can defend the system against them so that no accident will happen, you will be confronted with a number of problems. First, you cannot anticipate the foolishness of people and the strange coincidences offered by nature. Hence, your system will never be protected completely. Second, foolproof designs are often a challenge to fools. They will try to beat the system and therefore look for the few holes. E&P is a frontier area where, by definition, you seek the conditions under which foolproof designs cannot be made. For these 'reasons the (further) effect of this approach will always be low, but the costs will increase exponentially.
2. Tell those involved what to do. If you assume that you can instruct your people about every single activity so that their behavior is fully under your control, you will learn that there is no limit to what they need to be told; you cannot reach everybody; and although they were told and understand the instructions, people still will not act accordingly. Reasons for this are that they do not accept your authority, they think they know a better way, or your instruction cannot be followed.
Instructing people is relatively cheap; you probably have used this option to its limits already. Beyond those limits, you face the problems noted above; therefore, the further effect is assessed to be low.
3. Reward and punish. Reward and punishment schedules usually are powerful means for controlling human behavior. But the induction of safe behavior through incentives encounters some serious problems. You cannot reward or punish every type of behavior in your operation. Giving incentives presupposes that you observe the behaviors. This will involve a massive control system. Also, getting the reward may become an objective in itself, which endangers the real objectives of your operation. Finally, desired and undesired behaviors offer intrinsic rewards and punishments with which your incentives must compete. Effects of incentives are usually high, but given the full scale of behaviors that cause accidents, the effect can never be greater than medium.
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