• Alarm Audit

    2010 - Power/oil

    Andy was asked to carry out an alarm audit at a facility controlling power generation and supply to oil production sites. Over 20 gas turbines and a distribution network were controlled from a central location. Andy found that the system had evolved over a number of years, resulting a mismatch of control and monitoring technology being used. All had their own alarm systems, with varying problems and were in desperate need of review and rationalisation. Andy identified that operators were overloaded with alarms, but had developed coping strategies that allowed them to prioritise their actions. He provided the client with a plan to fundamentally change the way alarms were being managed that would improve reliability and process safety.  This was very well received, and Andy was asked to return to implement the proposals at a new facility. In fact the client was so impressed they offered a financial bonus.

  • Alarm review and rationalisation

    2011 - Power/oil

    Andy acted as leader of an alarm review for two new gas turbines.  He ran a workshop attended by representatives from operations, engineering, projects and maintenance teams; as well as EPC contractors and vendors.  Andy's first task was to achieve an agreed alarm philosophy consistent with latest standards and guidance including EMMUA 191.  This was then applied to the proposed set of alarms for the turbines and associated systems.  The result was a significant reduction, with approximately 70% being converted to journal notifications that would be recorded but not create an audible alarm in the control room.  This approach allowed fundamental changes in the way the turbines were to be operated where the operators could concentrate on proactive monitoring of the plant whilst the maintenance department would be responsible for identifying and planning maintenance interventions.  As well as specifying improved alarms, Andy's report made recommendations for improved process graphics and performance reporting.

  • Design human factors and ergonomics review

    2010 - Oil

    Andy was engaged by a company carrying out safety reviews for a new oil facility. His role was to attend the project offices in the middle east in order to carry out a human factors and ergonomics review. He ran a three day workshop, attended by representatives of the design contractors, suppliers of control equipment and the client. His review covered the control room, site layout, working conditions and potential for human error resulting in process safety incidents. From this he was able to identify a number of actions, prioritised according to the stages of the project where they could be implemented. His report was well received, with participants at the workshop being impressed with what could be learnt from a human factors review that had not been uncovered during the numerous engineering safety studies (e.g. HAZID, HAZOP).

  • Development of a permit-to-work system

    2004 - Oil

    The site had recently become a COMAH establishment. This created the requirement for a formal permit-to-work system. Being a very small and simple operation, the client did not have the resources to develop, operate or maintain a complex system. Andy was asked to develop a system that was compliant with relevant regulations and guidance, but practical for the operations taking place and staffing levels present on the site. Andy developed a two-part permit-to-work system. The first part was used during the planning stage of a job to analyse the potential risks and specify the necessary controls. The second was used to control the work on the days it was being carried out. The client felt this was a very practical solution.

  • Development of an operators' manual

    2005 - Oil products, Bitumen

    The client had recognised that the operating procedures for the site had become out of date and that rewriting them in their current style was unlikely to represent current best practice. Andy was asked to assist in implementing an improved approach to procedures. Working with the site, Andy developed the principle of an operators' manual. This would provide the basis for operator training and contain all the necessary procedures, job aids and other documents to be used by operators. The idea being that only information relevant to the operators was included so that it would always be easy to find what was needed.

  • EU Emissions Trading Scheme

    2006 - Oil refineries, environmental

    Thanks to his general knowledge of oil refining activities, Andy was asked to assist in a project for setting emissions benchmark figures for new plant. This involved him searching literature to identify best available techniques for reducing emissions based on energy use and developing simple equations for calculating emissions from process throughput. Working to a tight time-scale he was able to develop benchmarks as required, but also pointing out that they were based on scarce data, which ultimately calls into question the validity of the proposed approach. The results from this work are being used to inform the DTI on administering the EU ETS.

  • Human factors engineering during Front End Engineering Design (FEED) of an offshore module.

    2012 - Offshore Oil

    Andy was tasked with leading Human Factors Engineering (HFE) studies including critical task identification, task analysis and valve criticality analysis for a new offshore module. The project was relatively early in its design lifecycle and the principles of HFE were very new to the company.  This meant that Andy's role went beyond simple facilitation because he had to explain objectives and methods to participants in some detail.  However, the studies were very effective at identifying potential human factors issues that had to be considered during detailed design.  One of the main successes of this project was that it provided a constructive forum for engineers, operations and maintenance technicians, and personnel from the design contractor to come together to share knowledge and experience.  l

  • 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 shift handover systems

    2007 - Oil products distribution terminals

    One of the conclusions from the inquiry into the Buncefield oil storage depot explosions and fire was that organisations must have effective shift handover arrangements.

    Andy was asked to review arrangements at two of the client's sites to determine if they were suitable and sufficient. He was provided with copies of logs, handover procedures and audit findings; and had informal discussions with personnel. Comparing with available guidance he concluded that the existing system were too informal and ad hoc, and so needed improving. However, he recognised that no problems were identified with the way handovers were actually carried out in practice, and so was able to recommend that the action required was to largely formalise existing arrangements rather than generate a new system.

  • Thorough review of an offshore safety case

    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 there were some discrete gaps, some of which were already being addressed by the company.  Andy was able to confirm that the company's existing plans would have a positive impact, with some suggestions for improving effectiveness.