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Focus on learning at Safety Forum’s annual conference

9 June 2009 | ”Learning from incidents and actual HSE improvement requires a systematic and goal-oriented effort over time. Experience shows that it is a big challenge to have all parts of an organisation put new knowledge to practical use.” The words belong to Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) director and head of the Safety Forum, Magne Ognedal, from his speech at the Safety Forum annual conference on 9 June.


How to create a learning organisation which is able to put new knowledge to practical use and thus improve HSE? The question was approached from several different angles as Safety Forum hosted its seventh annual conference, called ”Living and Learning”.

More than 200 participants from more than 70 different companies, organizations, institutions and the authorities attended the conference, which aims to be the most important meeting place of the year for exchanging knowledge and opinions on health, safety and environment in the petroleum industry.

Learning organisations
During the conference, Ognedal called for a more systematic use of learning, and pointed out that this is a great challenge for the industry and the authorities alike. He pointed to the many investigations following serious incidents which found the same underlying causes, such as deficient management, understanding of risk and involvement of the management.
”I have looked for, thus without success, a good example of a ”learning organisation”, the PSA director said.

 Both Øystein Michelsen, Executive Vice President UPN at StatoilHydro and Steinar Våge, CEO of ConocoPhillips emphasised that there are no shortcuts to acheive actual change.

“The only thing which helps to promote learning is a long term and systematic approach. Training is the key,” Michelsen said.

Unique three party collaboration
Several speakers pointed to the Safety Forum as an important arena to achieve HSE improvement in the industry.

“A key goal for the Safety Forum is that employers’ organizations, trade unions and authorities – given their roles can unite over challenges and issues faced by the industry – and do something about them. Experience has also shown that the problem owners have faced the identified challenges and really done something with the problems,” Ognedal pointed out.

Relevant articles on the conference :