• A gap analysis of the approach taken to addressing human factors in a COMAH report

    2011 - Gas (LPG)

    Due to the quantities of Liquefied Petroleum Gases (LPG) stored at the client's sites, and hence potential for major accidents, they were required by Control of Major Accident Hazard (COMAH) regulations to develop a safety report. Whilst they had carried out some human factors assessments the assessor from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was not satisfied that they had addressed all the relevant issues in sufficient detail. Andy was asked by the client to carry out a gap analysis of what had been done vs. latest standards and guidance. He found that they had made a very good initial attempt, and had been effective at identifying critical tasks and some of the errors that could occur. However, their decision to base their analyses on existing procedures meant that some of the realities of the job had been overlooked. Also, their approach to identifying potential human errors was not particularly systematic. The result of these weaknesses was that opportunities to improve human factors had been missed and so it was not possible for the client to demonstrate that they were managing the risks effectively. Andy advised where the client's methods and approached required improvement.

  • Alarm management

    2008 - Gas onshore processing

    As part of a major plant design, Andy's client was required to carry out an alarm review. Andy advised the control, process and operations engineers on the project of current good practices for process alarms, particularly regarding prioritisation, and assisted in the initial review. They commented that this would result in an alarm system that was quite different to those they had experienced in the past but quickly understood the logic and started to see the benefits.

    The end result was a relatively small number of high priority alarms, with more medium and low priorities, and a significant number assigned to 'journal.' This compared to an initial allocation where the vast majority of alarms were to be assigned high priority, which would have inevitably resulted in a high workload and distraction for operators. Although a significant undertaking, the project proved that an alarm review was achievable and manageable.

  • Analysis of an accident

    2011 - Gas

    A fire had occurred and an employee had been burnt.  The company had carried out their own investigation but asked Andy to give them his opinion.  Using causal trees and applying his knowledge of human factors he was able to ask some searching questions that highlighted organisational and management weaknesses.  As a result the client developed a new engineering standard for the equipment being used at the time of the accident; and reviewed training and audit programs.

  • Assessing a temporary change of staffing arrangements

    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.

  • Assessing the design of equipment layout and controls

    2009 - Gas onshore processing

    Andy was required to visit newly constructed buildings housing electrical and control equipment.  His brief was to ensure the arrangements were appropriate to minimise risk of human error.  Andy identified that a number of cabinets were not positioned in a logical order, and that some labelling was confusing and ambiguous.  He was able to make practical and cost effective recommendations that were accepted by the engineering team as worthwhile and achievable.

  • Availability, reliability and maintainability (ARM) of a gas storage facility

    2006 - Gas Storage

    The client was completing the definition phase for a project to develop a gas storage facility using salt caverns. An ARM study was required to demonstrate the proposed plant arrangements would be suitable for the planned operating and commercial activity. Andy led the project with other consultants carrying out the modelling and analysis. He was required to communicate closely with the client to ensure the data used was appropriate and the results were appropriate to their needs. Andy was able to use his knowledge of the gas industry to interpret the modelling results and developing practical recommendations for achieving a reliable plant. He was also able to comment on human and managerial factors that would ultimately affect reliability once the plant was operational.

  • Control room assessment

    2006 - Liquified Natural Gas (LNG)

    The site had recently undergone extensive modification. This included addition of a new control console in the existing control room. The client recognised that the design of the console had not received sufficient attention, and that the physical ergonomics were not ideal. Andy was asked to evaluate whether process safety had also been compromised through the design. The conclusion was that current best practice had not been followed, and that this meant risks were not as low as reasonably practicable. Andy then used the results of this study to influence the design of a new control room, to be constructed in approximately two years time. He was able to get the principles of ISO 11064 incorporated into the project, including end user participation.

  • Control room ergonomics review

    2005 - Gas

    Operation of the client's major hazard site includes a significant number of actions performed from a central control room. Over the years the plant being operated has changed, new control equipment had been installed and the control room had been generally rearranged with little control. Andy was asked to evaluate the ergonomics. Andy's study involved observation, discussion and task analysis. His conclusion was that the basic physical environment (heating, lighting etc.) was adequate, but that there were significant concerns about how various control screens and communications are arranged. Andy made a number of suggestions for rearranging the current equipment to make improvements in the short term, and advised that more wide ranging improvements will be required in the future.

  • Critical task analysis

    2011 - Power/gas

    The client had identified that they needed to improve their management of process safety risks. A key element of this was human factors, with Critical Task Analysis being a defined as a deliverable for all facilities. Andy was tasked with assisting eight sites around the UK with identifying critical operations and maintenance tasks, carrying out task and human error analyses; and recommending improvements to the way human factors risks were being managed.  All personnel involved were impressed with the practicality of the methods Andy used and Andy's ability to identify areas for improvement.

  • Critical task identification

    2008 - Gas Terminal

    During a previous piece of work Andy commented that the client lacked a robust system for procedures, training and competence. As a result he was invited to return to site to develop a detailed plan of how to proceed.

    Andy proposed that a full list of operational tasks ranked according to criticality would be the best way to start and proceeded to develop this with site personnel. Using a modest number of assessment criteria, Andy was able to create a spreadsheet that automated the criticality ranking and also suggested the optimum solution for managing risks through use of detailed procedures, job aids, on the job training, more formal method of training and competency assessment.

    As a result the client had a very good idea of exactly what they needed to do to develop an effective system, and was able to demonstrate an approach based on process risk and human factors principles.

  • Critical task identification and analysis

    2010 - Gas storage

    The client operated two similar facilities, although one was several decades old and the other brand new. Given the high hazard of the operation it had been recognised that a task and human error analysis needed to be carried.  A two stage approach was used. The first activity was to identify the task performed on each facility and to use a simple scoring system to assign criticality.  This showed that a similar number of tasks were performed on each, but a higher proportion were considered to be critical on the older facility because of the higher degree of manual operation involved.  The second stage involved carrying out a task and criticality analysis for the most critical tasks.  This showed that on the older facility risks were higher than they should be because items put in place to assist some manual monitoring and operation were not as reliable as they needed to be.  For the new facility the analysis showed that the design process had failed to address human factors and that were a number of features of the plant that did not achieve current good practice.  For both facilities it was found that there was no standard set for procedures and other written instructions.

  • Developing a company procedure for functional safety addressing the requirements of IEC 61511

    2012 - Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)

    The client had recognised that they had a number of safety instrumented systems and hence IEC 61511 would apply.  However, they had no experience of applying the standard and were unsure about the best way to develop an in-house procedure.  They asked Andy to develop a procedure for them taking into account the standard, industry good practice and the company's systems and organisation.  The result was an eight page document following the structure of HSE's POPMAR model (i.e. Policy, Organising, Procedures, Measuring, Audit and Review).  This was very well received because it addressed all the requirements in a very clear and simple way that was straightforward to implement.

  • Developing a human factors integration plan for designing a new onshore and offshore facility

    2010 - Gas storage

    Following his involvement in a similar, but much smaller project Andy was commissioned to act as human factors expert for a large offshore gas storage facility with onshore processing. The main deliverable during early front end engineering was a human factors integration plan that identified the activities that needed to be performed in order to integrate human factors into the project design and operations phases, with specific activities incorporated into the overall Project Plan. Following discussions with all the major stakeholders it was agreed that human factors would be a line responsibility within the Engineering disciplines (similar to other safety aspects) so that effective integration into the design is ensured. Each discipline Lead would be accountable for addressing human factors within their area of responsibility.  Given the safety implications, the project’s safety function would be responsible for the overall monitoring of human factors implementation within the project. However, the specialist nature of some elements meant support and assistance would be required from a human factors specialist on a consultative basis. The plan itself was to be used to record significant human factors landmarks and references in its support of the required safety case (offshore) and safety report (onshore COMAH)

  • Developing a human factors integration plan for designing a new onshore facility

    2009 - Gas storage

    Andy was commissioned as the human factors expert during front end engineering for a new gas storage facility. His task was to ensure human factors was given sufficient consideration during the early stages of design, to develop plans for implementation during detailed design and to support the pre-construction safety report required under the COMAH regulations. He did this by developing a human factors integration plan that was consistent with industry good practice and the overall project. It was accepted by the client, regulator and engineering team as a useful method of making sure human factors received sufficient attention throughout the project.

  • Development of an emergency preparedness report for a LNG storage and export facility

    2003 - Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)

    The client was the design contractor for a large Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility to be located in Northern Norway. As part of the contract the client was required to provide an 'emergency preparedness report' that defined equipment and procedural requirements, that was to be used by the Operator to develop emergency systems for the facility. Andy developed the emergency preparedness report for the client. This involved reviewing the Operator's specifications and the plant design and risk assessments. Andy advised the client on the minimum requirements, and practical considerations given likely manning levels and environmental conditions (note the facility was to be operated in northern Norway). He attended meetings with the client and Operator to confirm the necessary arrangements.

    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 an in-house alarm policy, management and review procedures.

    2013 - Gas

    Andy was engaged to provide expert advice in the development of a suite of documents for managing process alarms.  He was able to make recommendations about how to improve the management of alarms to achieve latest standards, guidance and industry good practice; and to make the documents themselves more useable.

  • Development of the Design Accidental Load specification for a LNG storage and export facility

    2004 - Liquefied Natural Gas

    The client was the design contractor for a large Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility to be located in Northern Norway. Following on from the Quantified Risk Assessment of the plant, which Andy was involved in, this project involved assessing the likely consequences of fire and explosion events that may occur. It was necessary to be able to demonstrate that the plant design would mean that it would withstand any of these events that had a frequency above a specified threshold. These were known as the 'Design Accident Loads.' The analysis was used to confirm that appropriate design standards had been used, and that the provision of passive and active fire protection, and emergency shutdown systems were adequate. Andy developed the method for carrying out this analysis, and wrote the report.

  • Fitness for service review

    2010 - Gas

    The client had recently experienced a significant incident, that came following a number of operational problems.  Prior to restarting the affected unit a fitness for service review was carried out to ensure that all known problems had been recognised and rectified.  Andy was asked to lead the human factors element of the review, which involved a review of incidents, task and error analysis of critical tasks and a formal HAZID assessment.  The result was a thorough documentation of the known issues and risks associated with the unit based on past experience, and a list of actions and recommendations.  The main finding was that the vast majority of issues were related to the unit's design, and relatively few were related to the softer human factors issues.

  • Human factors analysis of systems for evacuation, escape and rescue

    2007 - Gas, offshore

    Following a major incident on an offshore platform the client identified a number of human errors that had occurred during evacuation, escape and rescue.

    Andy was asked to carry out a human factors analysis of the systems in place, taking into account the events that occurred during this incident. He visited the platform in order to observe arrangements and talk to key personnel. He then completed a task and error analysis. From this Andy made a number of recommendations for improving procedures, training and equipment arrangements.

  • Human factors audit at a gas terminal

    2012 - Gas

    Andy was asked to carry out a human factors audit to determine how well the client was meeting the requirements of COMAH (Seveso II) regulations and industry best practice.  He developed a question set that covered the HSE's 'Top 10' human factors topics, interviewed a range of personnel and collected documentary evidence.  His audit showed that the company was managing most human factors issues very effectively, but sometimes the arrangements were not clearly defined.  He developed a list of actions that provided a plan for tightening up arrangements to ensure they remained sustainable over the longer-term.