“Human factors performance indicators for the energy and related process industries”

Research report:
The Energy Institute1 recently published a research report on Human Factors performance indicators. The research was stimulated by emphases on both human factors and process safety indicators emerging from the two major accidents that occurred in 2005, the Texas City refinery in the U.S. and the Buncefield oil storage and transfer depot in England. The report may be accessed at: http://www.energyinstpubs.org.uk/tfiles/1297174860/1675.pdf

The report represents the culmination of a program of collaborative research with the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Lloyd’s Register EMEA, that was carried out over Spring and Summer 2010. The research effort was aimed both to capture current practices relating to measurement of human factors performance and to deliver a process that operating companies could use. The report focuses on defining and implementing appropriate performance indicators for the HSE human factors ‘key topics’. The HSE defines human factors broadly, inclusive of human and organization performance in addition to traditional human factors engineering.2

• Managing human failures

o Human errors

o Incident investigation

• Procedures

• Training and competence

• Staffing

o Staffing levels

o Workload

o Supervision

o Contractors

• Organisational change

• Safety critical communications

o Shift handover

o PTW (permit to work)

• Human factors in design

o Control rooms

o Human computer interfaces (HCI)

o Alarm management

o Lighting, thermal comfort, noise and vibration

• Fatigue and shiftwork

• Organisational culture

o Behavioural safety

o Learning organisations

• Maintenance, inspection and testing

o Maintenance error

o Intelligent customers

What is your organization doing about measuring human factors, and are there other reference sources on human factors and performance metrics that you recommend?3


1. The Energy Institute is a British chartered professional body for the energy industry that identifies and promotes good practices and professionalism within the energy industry, with emphasis on the petroleum sector.

2. See the the HSE human factors web pages on at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/humanfactors/introduction.htm

3. The report references a number of additional sources including a 2010 report from the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority “Indicators of safety culture – selection and utilization of leading safety performance indicators.” (Report number: 2010:07 ISSN: 2000-0456 available at: http://www.stralsakerhetsmyndigheten.se/Global/Publikationer/Rapport/Sakerhet-vid-karnkraftverken/2010/SSM-Rapport-2010-07.pdf


2 Responses to “Human factors performance indicators for the energy and related process industries”

  1. Thanks for the useful links.

    1. “Human Factors” has gone well beyond the Man-Machine Interface (MMI).
    2. Who is pushing transparency as an attribute of human factors and safety culture?

    Take care,

    Bill Corcoran
    Mission: Saving lives, pain, assets, and careers through thoughtful inquiry.
    Motto: If you want safety, peace, or justice, then work for competency, integrity, and transparency.
    Method: Mastering Investigative Technology

    W. R. Corcoran, Ph.D., P.E.
    Nuclear Safety Review Concepts Corporation

  2. Rebecca Raven says:

    This article is very useful with detailed templates for major key topics associated with human factors, including: Training and competence, Procedures, Staffing, Communications and drilling down to issues like Culture, Fatigue and Shiftwork. The discussion of Leading and Lagging indicators was helpful to me as was the “Health check questions” associated with each template.

    This article is well-written at a very understandable level and is of practical use: I recommend it for novice as well as experienced operations’ managers.

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