Human factors

What is  Human Factors

Human Factors is the application of what we know about human capabilities and limitations in order to maximize overall system performance. By giving careful consideration to the interactions between humans and technological and organisational elements of a system it is possible to significantly increase the system’s productivity and reliability.

Human Factors addresses the interaction of people with other people, with facilities and with management systems in the workplace. These factors have been shown to have an impact on human performance and safe operations. Human Factors provide practical solutions to reduce incidents while improving productivity.

In the oil and gas industry Human Factors is an essential component in the effort to operate in a safe and efficient manner. Areas where Human Factors has a key role include:

  • Design of tools, equipment and user interfaces in a way that augments the user’s work performance
  • Human and organizational factors in risk assessments and emergency preparedness planning
  • Human behaviour and cognition in accident causation
  • Efficient decision making and teamwork in stressful or critical situations
  • Safety culture and safety behaviour improvement programmes
  • Organisational reliability

Human Factors aims to achieve outstanding performance by proactively identifying risks and improvement opportunities, promoting Safety Leadership and designing improvement strategies, applying best practice tools, and supporting implementation to business and operational functions.

The oil and gas industry has a major accident potential. Both exploration and production rely on advanced human-machine interfaces, and are activities with a complex organisational structure. Increasingly, the work is performed by distributed teams and remotely controlled technology. Human Factors has become an important and integral part of the industry’s approach to safe and efficient operations.

External resources

National Oil and Gas Authorities

Oil and Gas Industry Associations 

HF Professional Societies

HF in Other Industries:

Further reading

  1. Vincente, K. (2004) The Human Factor: Revolutionizing the Way We Live with Technology, RandomHouse.
  2. Flin, R., O’Connor, P. and Crichton, M. (2008) Safety at the Sharp End: A Guide to Non-Technical Skills, Ashgate
  3. Reason, J. (1997) Managing the risks of Organisational Accidents, Ashgate, 1997
  4. Dekker, S. (2006) The Field Guide to Understanding Human Error, Ashgate,.
  5. Woods, D., Dekker, S., Cook, R. and Johannesen, L. (2010) Behind Human Error, Ashgate.
  6. Endsley, M., Bolte, B. and Jones, D. (2003) Designing for Situation Awareness: An Approach to User Centred Design, Taylor & Francis.
  7. Norman, D. (2002) The Design of Everyday Things, Basic Books.
  8. Sanders, S. (1992) Human Factors in Engineering and Design 7th Edition, Mcgraw-Hill International Editions.
  9. Perrow, C. (1999) Normal Accidents: Living with High Risk Technologies, Princeton Paperbacks.
  10. Reason, J. (1990) Human Error, Cambridge University Press.
  11. Weick, K. and Sutcliffe, K. (2007) Managing the Unexpected: Resilient Performance in an Age of Uncertainty, Jossey Bass.
  12. Holnagel, E. (2009) The ETTO Principle: Efficiency-Thoroughness Trade-Off, Ashgate.
  13. McPhee, B. (2005) Practical Ergonomics: Application of ergonomics principles in the workplace, Sydney: Coal Services Health and Safety Trust.
  14. Geller, E.S. (2001) The Psychology of Safety Handbook, Lewis Publishers.
  15. Daniels, A. (1999) Bringing Out the Best in People, McGraw-Hill.
  16. Kletz, T. (2001) An Engineer’s View of Human Error, Taylor & Francis.
  17. Dekker, S. (2007) Just Culture: Balancing Safety and Accountability, Ashgate.
  18. Stanton, A., Salmon, P., Walker, G., Baber, C. and Jenkins, D. (2005) Human Factors Methods: A Practical Guide for Engineering and Design, Ashgate.
  19. Hollnagel, E., Paries, J., Woods, D and Wreathall, J. (2011) Resilience Engineering in Practice, Ashgate.
  20. Gander, P. (2003) Sleep in the 24-Hour, The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand.
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