Are you tired of the traditional approach to safety that only focuses on learning from accidents after they happen?

If you’re ready for a change, the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) has a solution for you.

The new guidance document on Learning from Normal Work proposes a new way of thinking about safety that can help your organization prevent harm and loss before an incident occurs.

For years, safety practices have focused on addressing lagging indicators such as the frequency and rates of accidents, and learning has taken place after an event has occurred.

But this guidance document suggests a new approach that involves raising awareness and learning from normal work, or the tasks and challenges that occur during daily operations.

Normal work can vary greatly from one day to the next. These variations may include differences in time available, the presence of new or absent team members, the availability of correct tools, unexpected pressure readings, and the presence of additional people in the area.

Even with the best plans and procedures in place, high-hazard operations can be challenging and require workers to overcome common obstacles such as unclear procedures, missing tools, unexpected problems, and conflicting instructions.

Despite the challenges that may arise during normal work, it is typically only considered a success if it is completed without an incident.

However, this guidance document suggests that we should also be paying attention to how activities are completed and whether there are potential seeds of future accidents present.

By only learning from incidents or failed activities, we miss the opportunity to learn from the vast majority of tasks that are completed successfully.

Learning from normal work, also known as “pre-mortem” or pre-accident investigations, involves proactively examining the difficulties and challenges that occur during daily operations and addressing them before they contribute to future incidents.

While it may be tempting to attribute incidents to failures or malfunctions, this approach ignores the complex nature of people and organizations and the role that normal work plays in contributing to both successes and failures.

This guidance document provides a step-by-step process for learning from normal work:

  1. Understanding normal work: This involves gaining an understanding of what normal work is and how it differs from other types of work.
  2. Identifying and describing normal work: This step involves identifying and describing the tasks and challenges that occur during normal work.
  3. Analyzing normal work: In this step, we examine the identified tasks and challenges to understand their root causes and potential impacts.
  4. Sharing and using knowledge from normal work: This step involves sharing the knowledge and insights gained from the analysis of normal work with others in the organization.
  5. Integrating normal work learning into management systems: In this final step, we integrate the learning from normal work into our management systems to improve safety practices and prevent accidents and losses.

By following these steps and adopting a proactive approach to learning from normal work, your organization can improve its safety practices and prevent accidents and losses.

The document is quite long. You can access it HERE.


You can take proactive action and use our interactive resources and micro-learnings to explore how to learn from normal work HERE.

Don’t miss this opportunity to transform the way your organization thinks about safety and prevent harm before it occurs.

IOGP Guide List of Contents



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Discover the foundations of learning from normal work from the global industry thought leader and cutting-edge practitioner Dr Marcin Nazaruk. You will learn…

πŸ‘‰Β Why does learning from failure limit our ability to prevent accidents?Β 

πŸ‘‰Β How we found the causes of accidents before they happen?

πŸ‘‰Β  What’s the difference between learning from normal work and incident investigations, risk assessment, and behavioral safety?

πŸ‘‰Β List of constraints that force people to adapt and find workarounds.

πŸ‘‰Β  Difference between hazards and constraints.

πŸ‘‰Β Why people don’t follow procedures.

πŸ‘‰Β  The psychology behind workarounds and how to learn from them.

πŸ‘‰Β  Tools to learn from normal work.

πŸ‘‰Β  Case study from an international company showing how they started on this journey.

πŸ‘‰Β Business case and costs of learning from normal work.

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