According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the oil and gas fatality rate for 2013 was 24.2 deaths per 100,000 workers. That is 7.6 times higher than the all-industry rate of 3.2 deaths per 100,000 workers.
To push progress beyond the direct employees, energy companies should consider borrowing a concept from psychology. Company leaders must believe they can affect the safety of people who are not their direct reports, they must exhibit a so-called “internal locus of control.”
The super majors, for example, have reduced personal injuries and fatalities because of a sustained effort to improve asset design, maintenance, and operations, and to focus on safe behavior. During the past five years, these companies, each with around 100,000 employees, have reached a safety plateau, with a few fatalities annually. This reflects great success in reducing employee fatalities at company-owned facilities, but fatalities outside of the companies’ direct influence, involving, for example, road incidents and contractors remain constant.
By developing leaders’ internal locus of control, energy companies could inspire a dramatic shift in thinking that could extend the safety progress beyond the fence line.