Canada Energy Regulator Safety Culture Work Plan 2023–2026

Canada Energy Regulator Safety Culture Work Plan 2023–2026 [PDF 167 KB]


The CER’s safety culture work is one aspect of our broader safety and environment oversight strategy for preventing harm to people and the environment. A company’s culture influences what people see, hear, feel, and say, and the actions they take. As a result, it can positively or negatively impact safety and environmental protection performance. Companies that continually foster a positive safety culture build strong defenses that can help prevent major incidents. For this reason, the CER is committed to building an understanding of what safety culture is and how it can be improved.

Safety Culture activities to date (2021–2023)

The CER has been engaged in the advancement of safety culture since 2013. Highlights of the CER’s safety culture activities and accomplishments to date include:

  • Establishing and chairing the North American Regulators Working Group on Safety Culture to facilitate collaboration and shared learning on regulatory best practices related to safety culture advancement;
  • Releasing an updated Statement on Safety Culture, which includes the CER’s safety culture frameworkFootnote 1;
  • Facilitating workshops with regulated companies (practitioners and senior leaders) to promote learning and sharing;
  • Creating an external Safety Culture learning portal and publishing practical tools and guidance documents on an ongoing basis;
  • Sponsoring and leading the development of Canadian Standards Association Express Document 16:22 entitled Human and Organizational Factors for Optimal Pipeline Performance;
  • Launching data projects to test for human and organizational factors insights within existing CER datasets to inform future industry conversations; and
  • Collecting data to evaluate the effectiveness of the CER’s safety culture efforts.

Looking Ahead (2023–26)

To support the CER’s broader strategy for preventing harm to people and the environment, two safety culture goals were established in 2020. They remain the drivers for the regulator’s 2023-26 safety culture strategy. The two goals are:

System-wide influence and company performance

System-wide influence

Company performance

The CER will take a system-wide approach to influencing a positive safety culture across industry that supports effective management of threats to people and the environment.

The CER will enhance company understanding and detection of underlying human and organizational factors to support improved risk management and safety culture maturity.

These goals reflect an approach that fosters industry-wide and company-specific advancements in safety and environmental protection by:

  1. understanding that the CER is part of the larger oil and gas safety system and can improve it by working collaboratively to support learning by leveraging the knowledge and experience of others; and
  2. seeking to enhance regulated companies’ abilities to detect and manage workplace system issues (i.e., human and organizational factors) that impact safety and environmental performance and outcomes.

Proposed Major Activities

To advance safety culture awareness and understanding across industry over the next three years, the CER will:

  • Develop and publish (to the CER Safety Culture learning portal) relevant guidance, tools, and educational content for use by industry. Relevant topics being considered based on regulated company feedback received to date include: 
    • best practices related to Safety Culture assessment and advancement;
    • methods for collection and analysis of workplace system issues; and
    • leadership specific toolkits (e.g., content related to signaling commitment to safety, effective employee engagement, corporate governance practices related to safety culture maturity).
  • Facilitate industry-wide learning on safety culture through:
    • annual workshops with regulated companies and other members of the broader oil and gas safety system;
    • exploration of cross-industry collaboration (e.g., sharing across nuclear, aviation, rail, and oil and gas industries); and
    • continued leadership and participation in the North American Regulators Working Group on Safety Culture.
  • Develop internal CER processes for collecting, interpreting, and sharing performance insights with companies to improve understanding and management of human and organizational factors. This work will include:
    • capacity building across regulatory staff (e.g., development of a human and organizational factors competency framework, socialization and education related to key concepts);
    • evaluation of approach(es) to incorporate human and organizational factors within CER oversight activities;
    • development of supporting processes, tools and job aids; and
    • piloting of proposed approach and incorporation of learnings into future practices.

Evaluation and Continual Improvement

To evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed major activities, the CER will collect feedback from industry via the annual Departmental Results Framework (DRF) safety culture survey and participant observations following collaboration activities (e.g., safety culture workshops). The data collected will continually inform this workplan and support updates, as necessary.

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