Gulf Spill: A Dose of Truth Helps

Wednesday, June 2, 2010 @ 05:06 PM gHale

When does credibility stretch beyond all bounds? When can a person truly believe what another person is saying? When do actions speak louder than words? Is truth all about perception? When is right, right and wrong, wrong? Maybe it just depends on who you are talking to.
There are companies out there preaching the safety first mantra. There really are. These companies truly get it. These are the companies that have a safety and security strategy in place and have implemented or plan to implement industrial video applications for safety. They know having a solid safety and security program is a revenue producer. Then you look at the video of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. That truly seems to be the other end of the spectrum. Does anyone really believe BP thinks safety first?
Come on, just look at the track record. Texas City. Prudhoe Bay. Now the Gulf of Mexico. OK, mistakes happen. One time, even two. But three major cases? We are talking multi billions of dollars in damages in each of all three incidents and we are not even taking into account the environmental damage caused by their latest catastrophe.
Even BP admits safety has not always been a top priority. Taken from their website, BP said, “We believe our focus on changing BP’s safety culture over the last few years is yielding results. To measure how effectively we have embedded our safety message in the organization, we assess employee views on various dimensions of safety within the ‘Pulse plus’ survey.
“Responses suggest continued progress in integrating safety into our business, with 98% of those surveyed saying they know how to do their job safely. Positive responses have also been received to questions regarding confidence in line management making safety a priority (82% compared with 80% in 2008), being open to suggestions for improving safety performance (87%, from 81% in 2008) and being receptive to honest information about safety (98% versus 97% in 2008). In a new question on whether employees have seen evidence that BP is making progress in improving the safety and reliability of its operations, 76% gave a positive response.”
Call me a nut, but after all the safety issues the company has had over the past 5 years or so, I would hope the making progress in improving safety and reliability number would be higher than 76%. Studies show companies that put safety as the top priority and implement industrial applications such as video, reap the rewards of efficient, immediate response during emergencies and zero hazardous safety incidents. BP could learn a lesson from these companies that have adopted video safety applications.
While BP has big issues to deal with and they now face a possibility of criminal and civil charges, the whole question is when will companies get it through their thick skulls that thinking safety first is a revenue producer? In an environment where companies exist from quarter to quarter and they are only as good as their last dividend check, they have to realize you have a safety incident, big or small, and it will cut into those profit margins. Any form of unplanned downtime will kill any profits, so it only makes sense to ensure you keep the process moving at all times. That means increased productivity and hiked profits.
The economy is in a fragile mode right now and it needs positive reinforcement to keep growing and moving forward. Thinking safety first from the top on down is a positive step. That is the truth.
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