Academic journal article Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal

Translating Safety Policy into Practice: The Role of Management in Oil and Gas Industry in Malaysia

Academic journal article Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal

Translating Safety Policy into Practice: The Role of Management in Oil and Gas Industry in Malaysia

Article excerpt


The oil and gas industry in Malaysia has been growing rapidly in recent years, it contributed to 40 percent of federal revenue per annum against taxed and dividends (Mansor, 2013). The development of this highly hazardous industry largely depends on high health and safety standards setup by the stakeholders and management of the company. It has been suggested that management plays an important role in the total safety system, and the design and management of safety systems is a reflection of the organizational culture (Cox, Tomas, Cheyne, and Oliver, 1998). Meanwhile, management commitment and the extent to which employees embraced safety practices are factors which contribute to safety climate in an organization (Choudhry, Fang and Lingard, 2009).

The global burden of occupational mortality and morbidity indicates that the world still faces a high challenge in terms of the translation of current occupational safety and health (OSH) standards into actual practice across all levels. A legal requirement for safe working practices and the threat of prosecution does not necessarily guarantee the law is obeyed (Creedy, 2005). This is partly because work pressure is the most common stressor; and safety is often seen to be conflict with other performance aspects (Zohar, 2002). This apparent lack of regard for safety thus points to an even more pressing need to link safety with other job aspects such as productivity, quality, profitability, or efficiency, for it to be considered to be as important (Alaimo, 2004).

Furthermore, many studies have suggested that commitment from all related parties in translating policy and standards into practice significantly contributes to the standard of safety in any organization. The rapid development of new technology has fundamentally changed the nature of work and has increased the complexity of systems within a variety of industries (Hendrick, 1991). Among these complex systems are those commonly known as "high-risk" systems, such as nuclear power plants, chemical processing facilities, and aviation operations that require a tight coupling between both technical and human factor. The failure of either subsystem can often cause a failure of the entire system (Wiegmann, 2002). Furthermore, changes to work routines or adoption of new technologies and materials create new hazards; some hazards are beyond the perception and understanding of all but scientists, such as nanotechnologies (Mylett, 2010). There are also evidences from official investigation reports that indicated poor safety practices is one of the leading factors to the number of industrial disasters (Serveso 1976, Bhopal 1983 and BP Grangemouth 2000).

A safe and healthy organization starts from plant design installation which follows the standards and guidelines setup by the authorities. Then it is the company's management responsibility to provide a safe and healthy working environment without compromising the quality of their products. Gunnigham (2007) has clustered management motivation towards safety and health in the organizations in four different point of distinction i.e. OHS Leaders, Reluctant Compliers, The Recalcitrant and The Incompetent.

The first type is OHS Leaders, which are regarded as excellent OHS performance as a priority for which, in managerial jargon, there is a compelling 'business case'. In contrast, the so called 'reluctant compliers' are generally reactive on OHS issues and inclined to regard OHS as imposing costs rather than provide opportunities for increased productivity, profit or reputation advantage. Because of this belief, they rarely look for opportunities to improve production or profitability through improved OHS performance. In addition, 'the recalcitrant' view OHS as a substantial business cost with few compensating benefits. For this reason, OHS is treated as subordinate to production and short term profit maximization. 'The incompetent' is considered as the management that did not take any action to in improving the OHS standard in their organizations. …

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