Why is safety culture a priority for CEPA?

For 25 years, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) has brought Canada’s transmission pipeline operators together to collaborate on safety and improve pipeline performance. This led to the creation and implementation of CEPA Integrity First® in 2012, and continues to drive the industry towards its goal of zero incidents.

While CEPA members demonstrate their commitment to continuous improvement through Integrity First, there is also a recognition from the industry that safety is much more than a process – to meet the goal of zero incidents safety must be a part of industry culture, at the heart of all that we do.

To better understand how industry is collaborating to create a safety culture, we spoke to Patrick Smyth, Vice President of Performance at CEPA.

What is safety culture, and why is it important?

Safety culture is the way an organization relates to safety through a cultural lens. It involves leadership, informal and formal control systems, values and beliefs. These are all important in ensuring a safety mindset is always present in an organization – or that you are confident that people will do the right things, even when no one is watching.

What is CEPA doing to help foster safety culture in the transmission pipeline industry?

CEPA is working with member companies to create a safety culture program that aligns with their efforts around Integrity First. The intention of this program is to have safety at the heart of all that member companies do, so that every decision is being made with safety top-of-mind.

How will this safety culture program work?

The safety culture program has already kicked off. In 2015, CEPA conducted an industry-wide safety culture perception survey, which had high participation rates from CEPA member company employees. Based on this survey, CEPA members identified opportunities for improvement, which included creation of a safety culture guidance document and framework to gauge an organization’s maturity when it comes to safety culture. With these now in place, CEPA will initiate its safety culture cycle in 2019, which starts with a second perception survey followed by a self-assessment, and a continued focus on identifying areas of industry, member and program improvement.

Do you have any examples of how this program is working so far?

It’s still very early on, but we have already seen some progress. Members have acknowledged that they don’t compete on safety, and all CEPA members have shown a willingness to collaborate and share with other members of the industry on lessons learned. In 2017, we held the first CEPA Incident Forum, where about 200 members of the transmission pipeline industry came together to share ideas and lessons learned around safety and continuous improvement. This was the first event of its kind in Canada, and a big step towards the collaboration needed to get to zero incidents.

So, what’s next?

Next up for CEPA is working with our members to be clear on how the perception survey and self-assessment results will be used to continue improving industry and member safety culture. Our members continue to collaborate on the safety culture program and understand how important this is to really embed safety at the heart of every company.

CEPA members are committed to safely and responsibly delivering the energy that Canadians use every day. The focus on safety culture is another way that the Canadian transmission pipeline industry is working towards its goal of zero incidents.