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Title: Zero incidents: a realistic target for the pipeline industry?
Category: Technical papers from the Journal of Pipeline Engineering
Downloadable: Yes 
Project No.:
Research Agency:
Catalog No.: 2419s
Date of Publication: 2017-12-01
Price: $25.00 US
Authors: Ian Diggory
Abstract: The concept of devising safety processes that aim to eradicate all workplace injuries and accidents (zero incidents) has been discussed and hotly debated amongst health and safety professionals for a number of years. Various schemes have been mooted to achieve this goal, most of which tend to be a mixture of developing an employee safety culture, supported by training, and monitored by performance metrics.

For example, Zero-Accident Vision (ZAV) [1] is an ongoing pan-European project based on the concept that all workplace accidents are preventable and therefore nobody should be injured in the workplace due to an accident or human error. Note that ZAV is more of a philosophy rather than a numerical goal and, even if no one is injured, ZAV does not exclude the possibility of workplace accidents. .

Siemens USA, a subsidiary of the giant Siemens AG company, is rolling-out a process intended to inculcate a ‘zero-harm culture’ across its workforce [2]. Zero harm is founded on three principles, including zero incidents which Siemens identifies as a goal and claims is achievable. .

Supporters of the concept say that any target other than zero incidents is effectively condoning injuries at work. Critics say that zero incidents implies achieving a perfect safety record, which may well demotivate employees and possibly encourage them not to report near-misses. .

The concept of zero incidents has now reached the pipeline industry [3] (see TransCanada presentation on Gaps and Challenges facing pipeline operators at a PHMSA R&D forum in 2016). Whilst no-one is likely to deny that setting a target of zero incidents is a laudable ambition for the pipeline industry, what does it mean in practice and just how realistic is it? This article offers views on this question and considers the issues associated with setting such a target.

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