The Case for Distraction Prevention and Thinking Before We Act

Distraction can easily be called the primary root cause of most workplace accidents – both directly and indirectly attributable to health, wellness, and training challenges.  Distraction was the root cause of the single largest catastrophic loss in history – the BP Deep Water Horizon Gulf Coast explosion and related spill.  The impact from this tragedy is far reaching and will possibly impact generations to come.  What are our lessons from this horrendous loss?  No doubt there will be many, but my lesson as a veteran safety professional is that it is human behavior that caused this loss (distraction) and our call in the profession is to highlight this critical condition and to focus our safety efforts on a distraction free workplace.

At Oxman Safety we define safety as thinking before we act.  A clear mind is a result of minimizing distractions.  It turns out that the notion of thinking before we act is the hinge pin that safety and health have to distraction prevention.  Roadmaps that guide hotels to establish a clearly detailed safety and health culture, that encourages employees to deliberately work and live well is the solution to this catastrophic and often fatal phenomenon.  The result?  Employees who deliberately focus on the task at hand safely.

I have written about fatal distractions in my Blog Safety INN The News and will continue to offer insight and solutions into this growing troublesome sign of our times.  The article below highlights the DeepWater Horizon accident – possibly the worst workplace accident in history – and it’s cause.

To your safety,

Scott Oxman

Distractions Delayed Response To Oil Spill, BP Execs Say

08:55 AM CST on Thursday, December 9, 2010

HOUSTON – Workers on the doomed Gulf of Mexico oil rig were distracted by multiple activities going on simultaneously and didn’t try to shut the well until 49 minutes after potentially explosive gas particles began flowing in, a British Petroleum vice president told a federal investigative panel Wednesday.

Steve Robinson said at hearings in Houston that by the time the crew reacted, the hydrocarbons were already in the riser and couldn’t be contained, only diverted.

An explosion minutes later killed 11 workers and led to the spewing of more than 200 million gallons of oil from BP’s well, according to government estimates.

Also Wednesday, the head of the federal agency that regulates offshore oil drilling said the government is working as fast as it can to issue new permits to resume drilling after the explosion and denied claims from some in the industry that an unofficial drilling moratorium remains.

The Associated Press