Decision Making In Safety

Decision Making in Safety and Health

Decision Making is one key factor in incidents as mentioned by IOGP and even companies like Petronas and Shell.

Every day people make decisions. Some big and many small decisions. An average person makes about 35000 decisions per day. What to wear, what to eat, where to go, how to drive etc. These are all decisions. As mentioned some decision making is relatively small and less risk. Some however is high risk- example, should I take the short cut, should I just do this work without the permit.

Decisions can affect the person or others.

  • A driver deciding to overtake on a single lane road
  • A employee working on an item without Lock Out Tag Out so as not to shut down the plant or rig
  • A manager deciding to continue a heavy lift without a key personnel
  • A supervisor deciding to continue the work when its about to rain but has not started yet
  • A new person not speaking up when seeing something wrong


Everyone makes decisions. Good people make good or bad decisions. Most people decide without looking at the consequences or when rushed. Some bad decisions have been made with good intentions- but they are still bad decisions.

Whats required is to learn how to make better decisions. To gain knowledge, skills and understanding of how to make better safer decisions when doing decision making. Especially in the offshore industry or in high risk industries.


Humans tend to choose the best they know how. But as author Jim Collins once noted, “bad decisions made with good intentions are still bad decisions.” It’s up to leaders to equip workers with the knowledge, skills, tools and environment to consistently make the choice that reduces exposure for themselves and others.

We must remember- even good people make bad decisions. Decisions don’t define our character. It may be lack of knowledge or skills.

Data is a start- incident reports and not blaming people- help us understand how better decisions can be made.

All decisions where made from a number of precursors- ranging from safety culture, systems, training, procedures, techniques, experience and more.

Improving the quality of decision-making is a company effort. The leaders must approach the challenge of better decision making not as a safety issue but as a company issue. Decision Making does not just affect safety and health- it also affects quality, productivity and profitability.

The best way to improve decision making in organisations is to engage Safety@Work Consultancy who carry out consulting and training activities around Winning Hearts and Minds. One of the modules we work with are designed around Decision Making. Safety@Work Consultancy also helped Petronas at the Petronas Learning Center when it was thinking about launching the Winning Hearts and Minds approach to its rigs and contractors


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