The Weekly Reflektion 23/2023

Management visits to site are an opportunity to test the water with regards safety. The busy manager, out and about, walking around and talking to people. Casing the joint as it were. The value of these visits can be significant if the manager has a genuine intention to understand safety and has questions that will encourage people to be open and share their concerns and their praise.

What is the legal system trying to achieve in its pursuit of determining negligence?

In our Reflektion in week 17/2023 we talked about the management visit to the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon just before the Macondo blowout 20th April 2010. We reflected over whether a different approach and different questions could have highlighted the challenges the drilling crew were facing and whether an intervention from experienced Drilling Managers may have averted the blowout.

A few years ago, when I was working offshore, we had two separate visits from senior managers that displayed two different approaches to management visits.

The first visit was from a manager that was obviously busy. He needed a separate office with phone to shore and a computer terminal. These were the days before the travelling laptop and optical fibre links to shore. Following the compulsory introductory safety brief the manager then set about catching up on outstanding work. The next day we carried out a tour of the platform. The manager was bright and breezy and after introducing himself as a senior manager in the company to the people he met, his first question was,

How do you like being on this platform? Looks like a great platform to be on, and pretty safe I would imagine.

When the anticipated answer came the manager put his thumbs up and asked what the people worked with and where they were from. There followed a few anecdotes related to work and home, and then we could move on. I often wondered whether the thumbs up were for the person answering as prompted or for the fact that the manager did not have to make any commitment to do anything based on what he had been told. After all, if everything is OK why change anything. The people on the platform incidentally were also happy with the visit because the manager seemed like a good guy.

The second visit brought another senior manager onto the platform and the approach was different. He immediately wanted to know what we, the platform management team,expected of him when he was offshore. He wanted to know what he could contribute with so that we could improve safety, since safety was his primary focus. He asked about the challenges we had that could affect safety and working environment. He wanted to know what to expect when he asked the questions:

What concerns do you have about safety? How could safety be improved on this platform? What would make your job safer and easier

He also emphasized that if anyone told him that they thoughtthis platform was a great place to work then he would follow up:

Tell me why you have that view.  

One of the supervisors was concerned that this approach may create expectations that something will be done. The senior manager stated that this was exactly what the approach should lead to. Sometimes action should be taken, sometimes further investigation will be required, sometimes remedial actions are just not worth it and sometimes nothing can be done. With a good dialog you should be able to resolve these challenges.

Reflekt AS