Anniversary Waltz

The power of anniversaries and how we can use them to reintroduce learning into our organisations.

I recently spoke at the Piper 25 conference to commemorate the 25thanniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster and the 167 people who lost their lives. It was a privilege to be invited to speak, and it was impressive to see so many people from the industry at many levels come together to both remember and to renew a commitment to safety. Indeed the stated purpose of the conference was to “reflect, review, reinforce and re-energise”, a purpose that I think was largely achieved. I met and talked with industry ‘experts’ safety professionals, and all levels of operational personnel from OIMs to CRTs.

Human and organisational factors were a major feature of the conference, with a specific and well attended parallel session dedicated to the topic. Shows how far we have come in the last 25 years!

This impressive commitment has prompted some thinking on the power of anniversaries and their effect on people and their focus. I occasionally use an anniversary of an event to reintroduce a historic incident and associated learning to a training course or other presentation. When I do, I’m often surprised by how many people are new to the learning. It’s easy to forget that not everyone is as old as I am and some of these historic events might have happened before some delegates were even born. Even when the learning isn’t new, some of our more experienced colleagues become ‘jaded’ hearing about an incident incessantly in the months and years immediately following the incident. We shouldn’t be concerned about introducing these older events to our younger colleagues, or reintroducing them to us ‘old hands’, and an anniversary is a good opportunity to do so.

So, I’m going to put together a list of significant anniversaries, and put it up on this blog. We can then use it to reintroduce learning to our organisations, with a bit more impact and renewed relevance for toolbox talks and other safety communications. Watch this space in a few weeks.

And in the meantime, if there are any events that you feel merit inclusion in the list, whether from the process industries or further afield, with good learning potential, please get in touch and suggest inclusion in the list.


Image credit: David Corby via Wikimedia commons



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About the author

Tony Atkinson

I lead the ABB Consulting Operational Human Factors team. I've spent over 30 years in the process industries, working in control rooms around the world, in the fields of ergonomics, control and alarm systems, control room design and operational and cultural issues such as communications, competency and fatigue. I've been blogging on diverse topics that interest me in the widest sense of 'human factors', all of which share the same common element, the 'Mk.1 Human Being' and their unique limitations, abilities and behaviours. I'll discuss the technical and organisational issues that affect safety and performance of these process safety operators and technicians and how this impacts control rooms and the wider plant. However learning comes from many places and you can expect entries about aviation, automotive, marine, healthcare, military and many other fields. Outside of work, I indulge in travel, food, wine and flying kites to keep myself moderately sane. Please feel free to post your comments on each post. Blog entries are posted with no set frequency. To ensure you don't miss out on the latest blog post, click the button below to subscribe to email alerts when a new blog has been posted.
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