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An honest HES commitment is more than just a resolution on paper

A good health, environment and safety (HES) culture is not something an organization can just adopt on a piece of paper. HES work must permeate all activities and be in the minds of every single employee in all aspects of a company's activities.


These are the words of Helen Bolt, Director of Research and Development in the British consulting company BOMEL Consultants. Bolt will be giving the only HES presentation during the ONS conference on Thursday, 29 August together with Ola Morten Aanestad, a journalist with Upstream. Helen Bolt, visiting the NPD

Later the same day they will revisit the highlights of their presentation during the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate's HES luncheon. This week she also visited the NPD to give a speech about her work on HES.

Bolt has worked on HES issues for many years and her work has included participating in the development of an information gathering and analysis tool to identify weaknesses within the HES field for companies and organizations in many different sectors.

Earlier this year she also helped launch a major new initiative - A joint industry project for the offshore and marine industries – which will deliver a generic approach, supported by case studies, to understanding and quantifying human performance within risk management .

It is already expected that eight companies will have joined this project by the time work commences in the autumn.

Bolt emphasizes that the model has wide applicability and helps distinguish the quality of performance indicators from the significance of their influence in contributing to risk.

"If you ask the employees in a company 'What are the greatest challenges in the area of health, environment and safety in your workplace, and what can be done to improve safety?', you will get many different answers. Therefore, we have tried to structure this insight and understanding, looking at all aspects of the company's activities, as well as the wider context of the sector the company is involved in. By understanding the paths of influence we can then determine which aspects contribute most to risk and which can be targeted most effectively to improve HES performance," says Bolt.

This Influence Network, as the method is called, does not stop at analyzing human error and/or technical failure as the causes of an undesirable incident. It also goes deeper and examines the HES conditions, covering policies, practices and attitudes, in the entire organization from employees to senior management.

"Management plays a key role in ensuring focus on the HES culture," says Helen Bolt, who emphasizes that it is not enough for management to point to internal memos or speeches made to emphasize that safety comes before anything else if the employee's perception is that this goal gets lost in a sea of other demands, such as increased productivity and profitability," says Bolt.