Providing insight on our Human Factors Benchmark
A collaborative exercise involving upper tier COMAH sites and key industry stakeholders
Human Factors is one of the HSE’s hot topics for high hazard sites; however many companies are only just starting to consider them. In order to address this, we embarked on an ambitious Human Factors benchmarking programme for the process industry.
Many COMAH sites are asking these questions about Human Factors:
The Human Factors Benchmark helps companies to answer these questions.
Understanding exactly what Human Factors are about and how to address them
High profile accidents such as BP Texas City and Buncefield show what can happen when Human Factors are ignored. Almost all major accidents are caused by human failure in some way, whether because of poor leadership and management, design, operation or maintenance. By applying proven Human Factors techniques, grounded in the principles of human and organisational psychology, you can reduce human error to deliver improvements in safety and operational performance overall.
Human Factors considers three inter-related areas, the job, the individual and the organisation
Benchmarking Human Factors
Participants were keen to discover how their Human Factors practices compared alongside industry peers. Since Human Factors covers such a complex set of issues, this initial benchmarking exercise focused on the four core topics plus the common topic of safety culture.
Process Safety Management Systems
Application of Human Factors
Assessment workshops were undertaken at each of the participating sites. The assessment process used HFL's INSIGHT Lifecycle auditing and assessment tool with questions based on the HSE Human Factors Inspector's Toolkit.
Process Safety Management Systems
Human Factors Topics
Questions sets covered the core topics; Competence Assurance; Human Factors in Incident Investigation; Identifying Human Failure; and Reliability and Usability of Procedures. A common topic, Safety Culture, was also covered.
Training and Workshops
After undertaking an intensive one day auditing exercise centred on the five Human Factors topics, each company was given individual confidential feedback on the findings, conclusions and suggested areas for improvement for their site.
Appropriate use of Human Factors principles can lead to more usable and reliable procedures, and improved performance.
The programme revealed some encouraging results in relation to culture and attitudes to learning from accidents and incidents but it also highlighted the need for a more structured approach to Human Factors:
Experience of major accidents has taught us an inescapable fact: People make mistakes. So it’s essential for businesses to focus on the human factors side of managing risk, to complement other essential aspects such as the integrity of plant and equipment and procedures to help monitor that systems of work are effective. By focusing on the various elements of human factors – from competency through to the culture of an organization – the programme helps companies get to the heart of how effective the ‘people’ part of managing major hazards is in their business. This HF programme and its benchmarking capability is unique in showing businesses how far they may be from ‘best in class’ in managing human factors.
Other Case Studies