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Speak Up, Stay Safe: Building Psychological Safety in Drilling Operations

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Lost Time Incidents (LTIs) are a major concern in drilling operations. Worryingly, data from IADC reports for 2021/22 suggests a troubling trend: a significant portion of these incidents could have been prevented by someone simply speaking up. This highlights the crucial role of psychological safety in creating a work environment where crew members feel empowered to voice concerns without fear of blame or retribution.

Here’s how leadership can cultivate this vital element and, in turn, reduce incidents:

Psychological safety goes beyond standard safety protocols. It fosters a culture where individuals feel comfortable raising concerns, admitting errors, and offering constructive criticism. This openness is key to identifying potential hazards before they escalate into incidents.

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  • 1. Actively Listen: Leaders set the tone. Demonstrate active listening by giving crew members your full attention when they raise concerns. Don’t interrupt, and acknowledge their input with respect.
  • 2. Reward Speaking Up: Recognize and celebrate individuals who speak up about safety issues. Publicly acknowledge their contribution and encourage others to follow their example.
  • 3. Normalize Mistakes: Drilling is a complex operation. Mistakes happen. Leaders who create a blame-free environment empower crew members to learn from errors and prevent future occurrences.

Human Factors Crew Resource Management (HF CRM) training equips crews with critical communication and teamwork skills that bolster psychological safety. HF CRM programs typically cover aspects like:

  • Situational Awareness: Training crews to be aware of their surroundings and potential risks promotes proactive safety measures.
  • Communication Skills: Effective communication ensures clear instructions, timely warnings, and a platform for raising concerns.
  • Decision-Making: Empowering crew members to make informed decisions based on safety protocols and their collective expertise fosters a sense of ownership for safe operations.

When combined, psychological safety and HF CRM training create a powerful synergy:

  • Empowered Crews: Psychologically safe crews trained in HF CRM are more likely to speak up about unsafe conditions or practices.
  • Better Communication: Open communication facilitated by HF CRM empowers crews to address concerns directly with supervisors.
  • Improved Decision-Making: Confidence to voice concerns fosters informed, collaborative decisions that prioritize safety.

By prioritizing psychological safety and investing in HF CRM training, drilling operations can create a culture where safety becomes the top priority. This not only reduces LTIs but also fosters a positive work environment where crew members feel valued and empowered.

Remember, the key to preventing incidents lies in open communication and a shared commitment to safety. Let’s build a future where speaking up isn’t just encouraged, it’s expected.

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