• 2009 - Chemical manufacture

    One of Andy's clients was suffering from the global economic downturn and needed to cut costs. A number of opportunities to reduce staffing costs had been identified but the company had not been able to agree which to implement. Working with both management and the workforce Andy developed a risk assessment that identified where reductions could be made without compromising safety. He also made a number of recommendations about how to implement the changes and for further, long term benefits. The clients acknowledged that Andy's involvement had been instrumental in achieving the necessary changes as he was able to take an objective view that was appreciated by all sides of the debate; and his recommendations were seen to be practical and logical. The planned changes were implemented without any problems and proved to provide the impetus for improved teamworking and general competence amongst staff.

  • 2012 - Gas

    The client had recently undergone changes that had reduced workload for site personnel, but had a project on-going that would eventually return it to previous levels. They had identified an opportunity to release personnel to join the project team, which was seen as a very good way of making sure operational experience was considered in design and commissioning.  Andy was asked to assess the proposed temporary reduction in staffing levels and to advise on how it could be managed.  He used the HSE Staffing Assessment method presented in CRR348/2001 as a framework for the study, which was very successful at demonstrating how the change could be implemented safely.

  • 2004 - Chemical manufacture

    This project took place at an established manufacturing site that was adding an additional process unit to improve quantities of high value products being produced. Andy was asked to assess the additional workload this would create and to determine whether it was acceptable. Using the HSE staffing assessment methodology (CRR348/2001) and working with operating and project personnel, he facilitated a three day workshop in which potential hazardous scenarios were evaluated. Andy produced an assessment report that demonstrated that the high degree of automation being implemented in the new project meant that the additional workload for field and control room operators would be tolerable. However, it also highlighted that some existing arrangements were less satisfactory, and recommendations were made about how incidents were responded to. In particular, arrangements were required so that control room operators would receive useful assistance from others during an incident. Also, it was discovered that in some circumstances a recovery to normal operation may not be possible, and it would be better to make decisions early to shutdown the plant.

  • 2003 - Chemical

    The site has three operating departments. Significant organisational changes had occurred over recent years, although none were planned in the short term. The client was interested to find out what they could learn from applying the HSE staffing assessment methodology (CRR 348/2001). An initial assessment was carried out at one of the process plants. It was decided that the greatest value would be achieved by involving as many operators as possible. Therefore, assessment workshops were held with each of the shift teams. Andy co-ordinated a team of consultants to carry out the assessments and compile the report. The client found the findings were a real insight. The key issues identified in these studies related to operator communications, training and development and management of change. Some of these were site-wide, whilst others were more local. The company felt the assessment method and use of objective third parties provided information about the site that they would not have discovered in other ways.

    The client was planning to change from a 8-hour to 12-hour shift pattern. The main driver for this was that they were having problems arranging cover for holidays, sickness etc. This had resulted in frequent working of double shifts (i.e. 16 hours). Andy made extensive use of fatigue research documented in HSE Contract Research Report 254/1999, and the working time directive and UK regulations. Communication was key element in this project and research about shift handover described in HSE offshore report OTO 96003 was used.
  • 2003 - Petrochemical

    The client was interested to learn more about practical, human factors techniques. Andy ran a two day workshop with a group of site personnel, assisted by a junior colleague. On the first day a mini-staffing assessment was carried out using the HSE methodology (CRR 348/2001). On the second day some critical tasks were analysed using Hierarchical Task Analysis. A report was written of the findings from the workshop, especially regarding control room operations and the impact of change.

    The client was planning to change from a 8-hour to 12-hour shift pattern. The main driver for this was that they were having problems arranging cover for holidays, sickness etc. This had resulted in frequent working of double shifts (i.e. 16 hours). Andy made extensive use of fatigue research documented in HSE Contract Research Report 254/1999, and the working time directive and UK regulations. Communication was key element in this project and research about shift handover described in HSE offshore report OTO 96003 was used.
  • 2004 - Health and safety executive

    The Health and Safety Executive had recognised that many organisations had changed their team structures (e.g. downsizing, multi-skilling, self-managed teams), and this had affected the way supervision was being delivered. This project examined how these changes could affect health and safety, and developed a method that organisations can use to assess their supervisory arrangements and make improvements. Andy managed the project, and had a major role carrying out site visits, developing the methodology and writing the research report. He was assisted by a small team of consultants assisted performed literature searches and carried out some of the site visits. The practicality and value of the methodology was demonstrated in a series of site trials with eight process companies in the UK. The report was published as Research Report RR292.

  • 2004 - Energy Institute

    The Energy Institute (formerly the Institute of Petroleum) had identified that the staffing assessment methodology (CRR 348/2001) developed by Entec for the Health and Safety Executive was a very valuable tool, but that some companies were not using it because they perceived it to be too difficult to learn and use. Also, the Institute had received feedback from its members saying that they did not feel the methodology was suitable for automated plant. Working closely with the Institute's human factors working party, Andy developed a 'User Guide' that explained the practical aspects of conducting an assessment using the methodology. As well as explanations about the underlying principles and terminology used, the guide provided practical advice and forms that could be used to collect information during assessment workshops. Also, it explained how companies should use the methodology in managing organisational change, including the assessment of risks associated with existing staffing arrangements and the impact of proposed changes. An extension to the methodology was developed to provide users with a method of assessing the impact to the operator of implementing technological change. The report and associated material is freely available from the Energy Institute's website.

  • 2007 - Gas terminal

    The client was planning a significant organisational change. Referring to the HSE's staffing assessment methodology, but tailoring it to the client's specific needs, Andy considered the plans and employees' views. From this he was able to identify that there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the objectives, but that some of the arrangements for implementing the change needed to be reviewed.

  • 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.

  • 2011 - Process

    The Institution of Chemical Engineers organised a two year course, presented as eight modules, covering ‘human factors’ in improving safety and business performance in the chemical process industries. Andy presented a module titled "staffing and workload" in which he explained how companies can ensure they have sufficient numbers of people with necessary skills and organisation.  This included a hands on exercise using the HSE Staffing Assessment workshop using a organisation change scenario. He presented to two groups of approximately 25 people from a range of chemical, oil and nuclear companies from across Europe.

  • 2011 - Chemical manufacture

    The client was updating its COMAH report and recognised a need to include an objective assessment of staffing arrangements.  Andy was asked to conduct a study using the HSE method described in CRR348/2001.  He facilitated a number of workshops in order to complete physical and ladder assessments.  His report concluded that most necessary arrangements were in place, but that the details of their application was sometimes lacking.  He made recommendations to improve emergency arrangements so that prompt and effective responses would be more likely during an incident, and to review competence management programs.

  • 2009 - Petrochem

    The company had been through rounds of staffing reductions, change of ownership and management reorganisation. Also, the two plants in question had moved from dedicated control rooms to a shared facility.  Andy conducted separate assessments for the two plants in order to identify any common and specific concerns.  He identified a number of actions to improve the control of staffing and other human factors risks.  A number of them related to the original design of the plant.  However, a significant proportion of issues had arisen from the way various changes of plant, procedures and organisation had been managed in the past.

  • In 2001 a document Contract Research Report (CRR) 348/2001 was published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that introduced a method of assessing staffing arrangements for process operations in the chemical and allied industries.  I’ve lost count, but over the last 10 years I have been involved in at least 30 staffing assessment projects for more than 15 different clients.  Also, even where the method is not formally used I often refer to elements of it as guidance for my other human factors and risk consultancy work.  Having spent 10 years using the method I decided it was a good time to stand back and reflect.  In general, although I can point to some flaws in the method, I have found it to be a very good framework for assessing human and organisational factors.  It prompts you to ask challenging questions and to be objective in your analysis.  Also, I have found that the observations and recommendations I have made as a result of using the method have been very well received by my clients.

    Download my Christmas 2011 Paper - 10 Years of Staffing Assessments