• A risk based approach to reducing staff costs


    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.

  • Assessment of a change to shift pattern

    2003 - Chemical

    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.

    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.
  • Assessment of the human errors in accidents


    2004 - Chemical manufacture

    The client was concerned that they were experiencing frequent incidents where human error was a cause. However, they did not understand why those errors were occurring and so did not know what to do to prevent them. Andy led a small team in assisting the client in analysing past incidents and suggesting preventative strategies. This required him to train his colleagues in the techniques to be used. The project started by assessing a selection of past incidents in order to identify if there were any recurrent themes. As well as his in depth knowledge of human factors, Andy able to provide a systematic approach to this assessment. From this, a number of error prone tasks were selected for further analysis. The error prone tasks were assessed using the 'Human Factors Assessment of safety critical tasks' methodology described in HSE report OTO 99:092. During workshops attended by site personnel, error prone tasks were assessed using Hierarchical Task Analysis (HTA) and Predictive Human Error Analysis (PHEA). From this, error reduction strategies were proposed.

  • Assessment of the impact on staffing arrangements for a new process unit

    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.

  • Baseline assessment of staffing arrangements

    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.
  • Behavioural aspects of carbon management

    2004 - Chemical manufacture

    This project was partly funded by the Carbon Trust and was a pilot from their carbon management program. The main objective for the project was to learn about how best to address the behavioural aspects of implementing Carbon Management so that interventions intended to reduce carbon emissions were successful. Through interviews and discussions at all levels in the organisation; Andy and colleagues developed a comprehensive change management plan, with specific actions for the short, medium and longer term. Also, Andy developed a framework for a Change Management 'diagnostic' that would allow companies to assess their current culture with regard to Carbon Management, and determine where they want to be and how this can be achieved. The plan and diagnostic were commended for the ease with which they were understood and the assistance they gave to companies implementing Carbon Management.

  • Control room task analysis

    2008 - Chemical manufacture

    The client's site was undergoing significant plant modifications. Additional equipment was being installed with its own control system. This was to be operated by the existing personnel. The requirement was that throughput would increase with the number of plant disturbances being decreased. Andy was asked to identify opportunities to reduce the current workload by improving the operator interface of the existing control system. He did this using task analysis, with a team of plant operators providing  job knowledge. The client was very impressed with how quickly Andy was able to understand plant operations and with how effective task analysis was at identify practical improvements.

  • Demonstration of human factors techniques

    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.
  • Developing better procedures

    2009 - Chemical manufacture

    The client had started writing new operating procedures, but asked Andy for his opinion.  Whilst the procedures looked good, using a standard template incorporating photos, he realised that they were tending to be longer than necessary and would take a considerable effort to develop and maintain.

    Andy worked with the client to develop a set of new templates for different types of task, and to create some examples of each. In general terms the template for low criticality tasks was a one page overview, whilst a full step-by-step procedure with sign-offs throughout was required only for high criticality tasks. A system for assigning criticality was developed and Andy produced a 'procedure for writing procedures' for the client to ensure the agreed principles were adhered to in the future.

  • Development of a company standard for control room design

    2011 - Chemical

    The client was expecting to be upgrade various aspects of a number of control rooms over the coming months and years. They realised that in the past human factors had not received much attention when designing or planning changes to control rooms, and that this had sometimes caused them problems.  Also, they recognised there were some regulatory requirements. Andy was asked to develop an in-house standard that could be used when designing and reviewing control rooms. It referred to published standards, guides and good practices; but also provided practical guidance and insights gained for Andy's experiences with control room. The result was a relatively simple document that summarised all the key human factors and ergonomics issues associated with control rooms along with advice for assessing and managing design and change processes.

  • Development of a management of change policy

    2003 - Chemical

    The client had recognised that the way they were managing changes on the site did not guarantee sufficient control, and it was not possible to demonstrate after the event how changes had been managed. Andy, working with a colleague, assessed how changes were identified, assessed and implemented for process plant, procedures, materials and organisation. From this he was able to conclude that the same underlying process was present in all cases, but that this was not reflected in the existing procedures. He also identified that other systems played a part, especially permit-to-work where modifications to process plant were involved. From the assessment carried out, Andy developed an 'overarching change management policy' that documented the stages to be followed in implementing all types of change on site. This also formed the basis for specific procedures for different types of change and integrated other systems and procedures, including permit-to-work.

    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.
  • Development of a methodology for the assessment of supervision in the chemical and allied industries

    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.

  • Evaluation of a control room merger

    2003 - Chemical

    The client was planning to combine four control rooms on the site, into one. The knock-on effect of this was that support engineers would no longer be located in the same building as the process operators, but centrally some 200 metres away. Andy carried out a qualitative assessment of the potential risks associated with this move on the basis that it was a significant organisational change that would affect the way individuals and different groups would interact and communicate. The people most affected were involved via focus groups and interviews. The assessment was used to advise the client about how to manage the change to minimise the risk.

  • Human factors introductory course

    2005 - Chemical Industry

    Humber Chemical Focus has over 30 COMAH sites within its membership. They had recognised that increasing more focus was being put on human factors. Andy was invited to develop and deliver a two day course that introduced the basics of human factors and how it applies to risk assessment, incident investigation and development of safety report. 12 people attended, and feedback was very favourable.

  • Managing risks of changing shift patterns

    2003 - Chemical

    Following requests from staff, the company were considering a change from 8 hour to 12 hours shift patterns. Andy evaluated the proposed patterns using the HSE's fatigue index and other guidance, including the work time regulations. From this he identified some of the options being considered could result in people working four or more night shifts in a row, and that this may create unnecessary health and safety concerns. As well as fatigue issues, some significant knock-on benefits were expected through improved communication between shifts (less handovers) and with maintenance teams (more likely that jobs would start and finish during the same operations shift). Using HSE research regarding shift handover (HSE offshore report OTO 96003), safety of driving at work (HSE Research Report 020) and his own experiences, Andy presented the potential full impacts of planned changes. Andy discussed the planned changes with the staff likely to be affected. This highlighted some differences of opinion, but a general willingness to give it a go. From the information collected, Andy was able to advise regarding the potential problems with changing the shift and how these could be avoided. Andy has subsequently returned to the site and found that the new shift pattern has been a great success, with staff noticing "radical improvements" in their health, wellbeing and happiness.

    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.
  • Operator training in start-up and shutdown of a new unit

    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. A workshop was organised for operating staff to learn about the new unit. This included a day to learn start-up and shutdown procedures. Andy suggested that, rather than a class- room lecture, a more interactive approach was possible. Using a graphical task analysis technique (hierarchical task analysis), Andy facilitated the group in developing their own start-up and shutdown procedures. The participants found that, although they knew very little about how to operate the new unit they were able, using their operating experience, process descriptions and drawings, to work out how tasks would be performed. This meant they achieved a much higher level of understanding of the new plant and how it was to be operated.

  • Review of an organisational change

    2004 - Chemical Manufacture

    An organisational change was planned so that operating and engineering departments would be realigned to improve flexibility and protect against future staff turnover. The client recognised that organisational change can introduce risk, and that they may need to be able to demonstrate to the Health and Safety Executive that those risks had been assessed and subsequently managed. Working closely with management and staff, Andy clarified the nature of the changes being planned and the intended impacts. Using HSE guidance CHIS7 regarding managing organisational change, as well as the more general health and safety information included in HSE guidance HSG65, Andy identified potential hazards and ranked them according to risk. These included organisation culture, stress and communication. The client's implementation plan was reviewed to determine how well it addressed the risks, and recommendations were made to improve specific aspects. Andy presented his report to management, who used it develop their plan for implementing and monitoring the changes.

  • Review of control room ergonomics

    2004 - Chemical Manufacture

    The client was installing modern DCS computer control technology in an old control room. This was a temporary measure, whilst a new control room was built, but could last up to two years. Andy visited the control room to observe activities, discuss the operators' views and consider options to improve ergonomics given the significant constraints caused by reusing an existing room. Reference was made to HSE guidance and ISO 11064. The report discussed concerns about workstation layout, which put the two control room operators at some distance apart. Suggestions were made about how the layout could be changed to assist in teamwork. Operators had said they would need assistance in the control room at times of high demand, yet there were no spare workstations, and even answering the phone for the operators would be difficult. Options to allow such support were proposed. Some existing, wall mounted instruments and controls were located some distance from the new workstations, and the report stated that these needed to be moved as a priority. Also, it was noted that either operator in the control room could silence and accept all the alarms, and there was a significant possibility that alarms could be missed. Suggestions were made to improve the arrangement. Some of these were implemented immediately. Others were used to inform the design of the new control room.

  • Review of how procedures are addressing the needs of COMAH

    2006 -Oil Refinery/Petrochemical

    The client had recognised that in certain circumstance that procedures are a key risk control measure. As part of preparation for COMAH it was necessary to demonstrate that the actual procedures in place were covering all the requirements to minimise the likelihood of major accidents and to ensure mitigation. Due his previous involvement in procedures at the site, Andy was asked to review the current situation.

    Working to a tight timescale, Andy directed an internal audit of procedures and COMAH carried out by the client's personnel. He then visited every department to carry out his own 'sample' audit to act as a cross reference. This combined approach meant Andy had information to demonstrate that whilst minimum requirements were being achieved, there was an underlying problem that meant the link between procedures and COMAH was not being made in an effective manner. As a result he was able to recommend a change of emphasis in the way tasks were analysed that would have multiple benefits of focusing procedures onto major hazards and improving the understanding of people who use the procedures.

  • Review of organisational change

    2005 - Fertiliser manufacture

    Following an organisational change on the site, Andy was asked to review its success, and to identify aspects that had been less successful and/or required further improvement. This involved a number of discussion meetings with operating teams across the site, plus with plant managers and technical support staff. His report identified that the changes had been implemented without increasing or introducing additional risks. However, some of the objectives of the changes had not yet been realised, and would require further management intervention. Andy's report included recommendations for further improvements.