Task and human error analysis

Safety critical task analysis is one of my main specialities.  I have assisted many clients across different industries to identify their critical tasks, complete structured analyses (usually using Hierarchical Task Analysis), predict potential human errors and their consequences, review risk controls and evaluate Performance Influencing Factors (PIF).  This has been at operating sites and during new projects.  The output has been used to review and update procedures, training and competence systems, evaluate designs and developing human machine interfaces.

I find my chemical engineering knowledge and wide experience of applying human factors means I am particularly able at engaging with the people who perform tasks, typically in a workshop environment.  I find that something significant is learnt during most analyses, even for tasks that are very well established.

Click here for examples of my projects using task & human error analysis

Click here for a paper I wrote describing a task risk management approach and click here for a task & error analysis template I have developed.

Click here for a video animation for carrying out hierarchical task analysis and here for another video covering human error analysis.

Staffing assessments

Although I was not involved, I joined the consultancy (Entec) that developed the 'standard' method of assessing staffing arrangements in the process industries soon after they delivered it the Health and Safety Executive (published as Contract Research Report 348/2001). I quickly ended up regularly carrying out assessment for clients using the method, and still do so today.  I have no evidence to back this up, but I assume I have used the method more than anyone else. 

I find the method is a useful tool for structuring a discussion between the workforce and their managers about whether there are enough people, with the right competencies, organised in a way that allows them to handle hazardous situations effectively.  A testament to my assessments is that I have been invited back by clients a number of times to reassess their arrangements as a way of evaluating how well they are managing staffing and organisational change.

I was lead author in a user guide for the method on behalf of the Energy Institute, which you can download here.  Also, I presented the Staffing and Workload module on the IChemE's human factors course for a number of years, which featured the method and my experience of using it.

Click here for examples of my projects involving staffing assessments

Click here for a paper I wrote documenting my first 10 years experience of staffing assessments

CRR 348/2001 provides a set of decision trees and assessment ladders.  I have updated these based on my experience of using the method in practice.  Click here to view my new version of the staffing assessment decision trees and here for my me new version of the assessment ladders.

Control room design and evaluation

The control room is one of the most critical components of any modern process plant, and involves a wide range of human factors issues that go well beyond the traditional view of what constitutes 'ergonomics.'  I have assisted clients with designing new control rooms and evaluating and modifying existing control rooms.  Also, I have helped a couple of clients by developing in house standards for control room design.

My focus is always on the tasks being performed from the control room and the impact the design will have on process safety risks.  This has to cover the human machine interfaces that are provided, including alarms.

Click here for a paper I wrote about control room design

Click here for examples of my projects involving control room design & evaluation

Alarm management and rationalisation

Many (most) companies have poor alarm systems.  They tend to create a lot of nuisance, and flood operators with alarms during a plant upset or non-routine situation.  EEMUA 191 is generally considered as the 'standard' for alarm management in the UK, although ISA 18.2 and BS EN 62682:2015 are also used.  

As well as helping a number of clients with alarm management and rationalisation, I also present a course on the subject approved by EEMUA.

Click here for examples of my projects involving alarm management & rationalisation

Click here for a video animation about alarm management and how to review and rationalise alarms (25 minutes)


2014 - Gas

Following an assessment aimed at predicting the impact of a planned change, Andy returned to site to re-assess staffing arrangements using the Staffing Assessment method.

2014 - Gas

Following on from his input into the Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) stage of the project, Andy was commissioned to provide human factors input during detailed design of the modification.  This involved management of the human factors integration plan, as well providing consultancy support and performing audits and reviews.

2014 - Offshore oil

Andy was tasked with completing a human factors assessment as part of the company’s five yearly Safety Case Thorough Review.   He did this by comparing the content of the Safety Case and underlying systems and procedures with latest standards and guidelines.  Key topics included procedures, training and competence, supervision and management, and control room design.  He made two sets of recommendations.  The first was how the company could improve the way it manages human factors and the second how the Safety Case should be updated to improve coverage of human factors.  In this case it was found that the company had a number of significant gaps and Andy was able to help the company to prioritise actions to improve.

2014 - Gas

Andy led a review of the way the company identified the need for contractors, defined their scope of work, selected them and managed the work they do.  This highlighted the issues related to ensuring the competence of people who are not direct employees.  The review identified a number of areas where improved control could and should be implemented; and how this could reduce the risk of major accidents.