GCU helps energy sector avoid life-threatening workplace accidents

11 December 2013

Dr Anoush Margaryan

Dr Anoush Margaryan

Adult learning experts at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) are supporting multinational energy companies in their bid to reduce the number of accidents in the workplace.

Companies such as Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips and Centrica are working with GCU’s Caledonian Academy – which specialises in using new technology to help professionals learn more effectively – to develop strategies to make the workplace safer, a process known as Learning From Incidents (LFI).

Industry representatives will meet with academics, policy makers and trade bodies, including the Energy Institute, British Safety Council and Health and Safety Executive, at GCU on Tuesday, December 10 to discuss how better to develop LFI.

The seminar follows on from work funded by Shell International and the Energy Institute to develop an LFI framework and a process model.  

Dr Anoush Margaryan, Caledonian Academy, said:

“Despite significant investments in improving health and safety, accidents still occur, causing loss of life, large costs and environmental degradation. One of the main causes for this is the inability of organisations to learn from near-misses and incidents which happen in the workplace. This is where LFI can play a huge part.

“Serious incidents such as the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 are thankfully rare, but companies have acknowledged that the way they learn and disseminate lessons in the wake of these events can and should be improved.”

LFI activities in organisations currently tend to be limited to dissemination of recommendations from incident investigation reports and discussion of these recommendations in teams. The Caledonian Academy team has produced a practical toolkit to help companies measure and improve the effectiveness of their LFI activities. 

The toolkit, which includes a self-assessment questionnaire, structured guidelines and good practice examples to help companies improve their LFI initiatives, is being disseminated across the energy sector companies around the world through the Energy Institute, a professional organisation for the energy sector.     

Dr Margaryan said: “Good LFI can achieve long-lasting change.  While in our complex technological age incidents can never be completely eliminated, using effective methods of learning from incidents is critical in saving lives, avoiding tremendous costs and preventing loss of livelihood for communities and society as a whole.” 

Tuesday’s seminar is the first of six funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. They run from December 2013 until September 2015. The series will bring together distinguished scholars and early-career researchers from the UK, Finland, Italy, and Spain.

Seminar participants include practitioners and policy-makers from the energy, construction, transport and other sectors and professional and government bodies and third-sector organisations such as Energy InstituteBritish Safety CouncilHealth and Safety Executive.   Further details are available on the seminar website