Improved Leadership. Competitive Advantage.

Much of our time seems split between railroads, railyards, shipyards, and power stations. Within the nuclear arena, much energy is spent towards learning from OE (Operating Experience). Much more than a luxury, within nuclear, it is considered a necessity to raise OE, or historical knowledge, prior to performing a task or engaging in a critical evolution. We do so now, and look to a recent event.

Just a touch over a year ago, the Amtrak 188 train barreled towards Philadelphia. This train and its leadership approached a bend that required a slowdown to 55 MPH. This didn’t happen. Instead, the train hurled toward this bend-in-the-track at speeds double that—approaching 106 MPH. After eight people were killed and more than 200 were injured, the FBI as well as the National Transportation Safety Board also got involved—heavily.

Just this past month, both the FBI and the NTSB levied their key finding that the conductor/chief engineer had become distracted, and that was the root cause of the catastrophe. More to the point, the conductor lost his situational awareness.

We’ve called on prospective clients before who suggest that safety errors can be corrected almost exclusively through technology. Technology fails and on this particular day, it sure did. The Amtrak technology—the positive control systems was down and out. This is where, by and large, nuclear gets it right. Even with nuclear’s ‘special and unique’ technology, there is converging belief that most safety events or errors are hardly ever technological. Rather, they are behavioral such as the lack of situational awareness mentioned above. That isn’t to say that technology should not be part of the ‘defense in depth’ approach to protecting our workforce. That’s not what we are saying. Instead, we strongly suggest that investing in behavioral and cultural influences to improving safety will yield considerable and sustainable results over time. To rely solely on, even as a dominant safeguard, technology will disappoint. Instead, invest in your people.

To improve your safety culture, you can never do better than calling ELP. Reach out to Robin Bichy at robin@elpadvantage.comto learn more about our cultural approach to staying and remaining safe.