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2015 Trinity Dublin - Task risk management - hf in process safety

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2015 Trinity Dublin - Task risk management - hf in process safety

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Presentation to Post-Docs at Trinity College Dublin who were working on the TOSCA project

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  1. 1. Tel: (+44) 01492 879813 Mob: (+44) 07984 284642 andy@abrisk.co.uk www.abrisk.co.uk 1 Task Risk Management Andy Brazier
  2. 2. 2 A bit about me Chemical engineer BSc - Loughborough University PhD - Edinburgh University 19 years working as human factors consultant 10 years self-employed Registered member of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF) Associate member of Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE)
  3. 3. Experience Predominantly oil, gas, chemical, power and steel industries Human factors in major accident safety Design assessments Safety critical task analysis Staffing and organisational change Clients include Shell, BP, SSE, Centrica, Tata, Syngenta, Total, Maersk etc. 3
  4. 4. Places I have works – UK & Ireland 4
  5. 5. Places I have worked – further afield 5
  6. 6. Projects I have worked on but not visited 6
  7. 7. 7 Human factors and safety Up to 80% of accident causes can be attributed to human failures All major accidents involve a number of human failures Human factors is concerned with Understanding the causes of human failures Preventing human failures An important part of managing ‘major accident safety’
  8. 8. 8
  9. 9. 1. Annulus cement barrier did not isolate hydrocarbo ns Deepwater Horizon Explosions & Fire 2. Shoe track barriers did not isolate hydrocarbo ns 7. Fire and gas system did not prevent ignition 3. Negative- pressure test accepted - integrity not established 4. Influx not recognised until hydrocarbo ns were in riser 5. Well control response actions failed 6. Diversion of mud resulted in gas venting to rig 8. BOP emergency mode did not seal well Why?
  10. 10. Initially – did not achieve seal around drill pipe Negative pressure test accepted even though integrity had not been established Did not follow agreed test method Mis- interpreted data Crew had preferred method Operationa l instruction only broad guidance Did not recognise more liquid than expected No prediction available at time Rig crew expected to know how to perform test Previous experience Not aware of specified permit requiremen ts Did not realise constant high pressure indicated a problem Plausible explanatio n (bladder effect) Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?
  11. 11. Crew busy with other activities Influx not recognised until hydrocarbon was present in riser Instructions required constant monitoring - did not specify how Crew not monitoring well Other activities interacting with pits Pits not set-up for combined activities Mud pit levels not available to monitor Why? Why?Why?
  12. 12. Well control response actions failed to regain control of the well Slow to detect the problem Crew not properly prepared in required actions Protocols did not cover the scenario Crew had not been trained to deal with the event Why? Why?
  13. 13. Working in silos 14 QRA HAZOP Human factors
  14. 14. Problem with working in silos Generally Risks not understood fully Controls less effective and/or efficient Human factors Consequence of error not recognised in human factors studies Non-human factors people make inappropriate assumptions about how humans can failure Solutions/risk controls introduce additional human factors problems. 15
  15. 15. Extracting human factors from HAZOP Safeguards with human component Monitoring and control Alarm response Training or procedure??? Safeguard maintenance Tasks considered as potential causes of deviation Recommendations. 16
  16. 16. Issues with HAZOP and human factors Not a systematic study of human factors Human factors principles not always applied (correctly) HAZOP is already demanding without adding human factors But creating good links between HAZOP and human factors could be very beneficial. 17
  17. 17. 18 Risk profile Hazard detail Engineered Human Hierarchy Task or activity 1. Instrument 2. Alarm 3. Trip 4. Mechanical Task risk management 1. HMI 2. Deviation response 3. Emergency 4. Generic competence 5. One-off risk assessment 6. Automated Prioritise according to risk of MAH QRA, HAZID Identify deviations leading to MAH HAZOP, PHR ALARP Barriers Bowtie?
  18. 18. Task Risk Management Five stage process 1. High level screening 2. Identify tasks 3. Prioritise tasks for analysis 4. Analyse the most critical tasks 5. Use the findings 19
  19. 19. 1. Screening The parts of the system to focus your effort Hazardous Complex Critical to production Systems with potential for Major Accident Hazards (MAH) – all tasks are considered to be “safety critical.” 20
  20. 20. 1. Screening - hypothetical hazardous plant Process storage – yes Reaction plant – yes Pipeline – no Water treatment – partly Instrument air – no 21
  21. 21. 2. Identify tasks Possible approaches Skip the step – people often want to dive straight into task analysis Existing procedures – assume they cover all tasks Structured brainstorming – process drawing 22 Filters Duty/standby Pumps Duty/standby DP Alarms Lo LoLo Hi Trip Storage tank Delivery tanker Group exercise
  22. 22. 2. Identify tasks This step is very simple – but encourages a systematic approach Uses for task lists ‘Gap analysis’ of procedures, training/competence systems; ‘On the job’ training programmes; Workload estimates; Managing organisational changes. 23
  23. 23. 3. Prioritise tasks for analysis Possible approaches ‘Gut feel,’ experience or ‘normal’ risk assessment HAZOP, Process Hazard Review (PHR) etc. Scoring system (see OTO 092 1999 – HSE) 24 Hazardousness of system Ignition/energy sources Changing configuration Error vulnerability Impact on safety devices Overall criticality Low Medium High 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 0-3 4-8 9-15
  24. 24. 3. Prioritise tasks for analysis Benefits of scoring tasks at stage 2 Objective Demonstration of why tasks were selected for analysis – safety reports/cases Highlight ‘anomalies’ without carrying out a detailed task analysis 25 Microsoft Excel Worksheet
  25. 25. 4. Analyse the most critical tasks Task analysis is tried and tested – but negative perceptions Time and effort Only doing it to keep the regulator happy Discoveries from every analysis - if done ‘properly’ 26
  26. 26. 27 Connect tanker to delivery point 27272727272727 Transfer fuel from road- tanker to storage Preconditions •Delivery from approved supplier •Tanker located in unloading bay Transfer fuel using tanker’s pump Disconnect tanker from delivery point Confirm tanker is OK to offload Connect earth to tanker Connect vapour recovery hose Connect delivery hose between tanker & delivery point Open valves Check for leaks Start tanker’s pump Standby & monitor throughout When complete, stop pump and close valves
  27. 27. 4. Analyse the most critical tasks Group exercise – use a data projector People share experiences and concerns Accept procedure may not reflect reality Buy in to new methods An excellent training exercise for people involved Human error analysis Look at the task with ‘new eyes’ Identify where issues have been ‘glossed over’ 28
  28. 28. Consider consequence for each step if Omitted (not carried out) Incomplete Performed on the wrong object Mistimed (too early or late) Carried out at the wrong speed (too fast or slow) Carried out for the wrong duration (too long or too short) Performed in the wrong direction. 29
  29. 29. 30303030 Task Step Possible error Existing risk control measures Consequence Additional measures 30 Conne ct earth to tanker Action omitted - Potential for static discharge to act as source of ignition Failure to achieve an earth before starting transfer. Standard practice for all tanker operations . Consider installing interlocke d earth connectio n. Earth connectio n readily available.
  30. 30. 5. Use the findings ‘Engineer out’ error potential New projects – human factors integration plan Design reviews and system modifications Procedures High criticality – print, follow and sign every time Medium criticality – reference procedures Low criticality – generic procedures and guidance How do you manage the risks the risks of critical tasks that are performed frequently? Competence system How to perform tasks Understanding the risks 31
  31. 31. 5. Use the findings Continuous review – proactive and reactive Consider all stages when examining failures 1. Why is a task missing from the list? 2. Why was criticality not assessed correctly? 3. Was the task analysis correct? 4. Were the findings used? 32
  32. 32. Differential tasks vs activities Safety Critical Task (SCT) There is a clear start and finish There are discrete steps A change of status occurs Safety Critical Activity (SCA) where the critical aspects are: Timing (when to perform the task) Tools and equipment to be used Information presentation Decision making 33
  33. 33. Examples of SCT Node start-up and shutdown Starting main items of equipment Stopping same equipment often simpler Remove, calibrate and replace relief valve or bursting disk Leak or pressure test. 34
  34. 34. Examples of SCA & how to address Control/optimise process Human Machine Interfaces (EEMUA 191/201) Emergency response Emergency planning/staffing assessment Routine maintenance/inspection Planning and scheduling Competence of personnel, permit to work One-off tasks (e.g. temporary repair) Risk assessment and management of change. 35
  35. 35. SCT or SCA depends on circumstance Changing operating mode Manual stop or trip Check/calibrate transmitter Function test trip Maintain process equipment Contractor management Prepare plant for maintenance Normal shutdown? 36
  36. 36. Conclusions Linking human factors with other process safety activities has great benefits Linking all process safety activities should be the aim Differentiating SCT and SCA helps clarify the way forward Needs to be continuous and iterative Changing the approach to human factors is not the only requirement Process safety studies need to be modified to provide better date for human factors studies. 37
  37. 37. 38

Editor's Notes

  • So to close I will just summarise the four steps of the process.
    Identify tasks associated with the system. Consider operations, maintenance and dealing with situations that arise
    Rank tasks on the list into priorities, with the highest being the ones where we are more likely to learn the most from carrying out task analysis. We should not be analysing easy tasks
    Analyse the tasks, but make sure this is done properly involving the right people and being systematic. It is much better to complete a small number of analyses really well than to do a large number badly
    Finally use the findings. Otherwise, we have essentially wasted our time.
  • I suggest the first of the four stages of task risk management is to generate a comprehensive list of tasks for the system where we wish to apply task analysis. My experience is that this is rarely done because people want to dive straight into analysing specific tasks.
    When I do get people to accept that the starting point for our analysis should be a list of tasks they often want to simply use the list of existing procedures. However, my experience is that most organisations have not developed procedures in a very systematic fashion, and more often than not is that procedures do not exists for tasks that should be our highest priority for task analysis.
    I have found that a structured brain-storm is usually the best, asking people to work systematically through their system to identify tasks. A drawing can be particularly useful. For example, working left to right on this drawing I can see that operationally we need to receive material from a tanker, manage stock levels in the tank, changeover filters when the online one gets blocked and changeover pumps if the online fails. Also, I know we will need some system start-up and shutdown procedures. From a maintenance perspective I can see that we need to change or clean filter elements, repair the pump, calibrate instruments and test trip functions.
  • This step is very simple, and perhaps that is why people will often want to skip it. But by starting at this point people start to think more systematically, and are less inclined to pluck tasks from thin air for analysis. Also, the lists are very useful in their own right. They can be used for gap analyses.
    At one of my clients we used a macro to convert the lists into training packages that grouped tasks into modules that were printed out as a workbook that was given to trainees. Also, it is very useful to know what tasks people are doing when looking at this like workload or when managing change.
  • Step 2 of the process is to review the list and prioritise the tasks that should be analysed first. These should be the tasks where there is interaction with major hazards and where there is potential for human failure. In other words, where are we going to get the most benefit from carrying out task analysis.
    I find that peoples gut feel for which tasks are most critical is fairly unreliable. They usually choose tasks that they are familiar with, and often reassure themselves that there is not an issue with certain tasks because they have a procedure. My experience also is that both standard health and safety risk assessments and process safety analyses such as HAZOP are rarely much use, largely because the approaches taken to human factors are unsystematic.
    I have had most success with a simple scoring system. The basis for this was presented in an HSE report in 1999. I have adapted it through experience, but the basic principle is that each task is scored between 0 and 3 against five criteria. Add up the scores for a total. The ones with the highest score are the most critical and hence the highest priority for task analysis.
  • Having used this method a lot over the last few years I am fully confident that, whilst it is relatively quick and easy to do, the output is very useful. It ensures a degree of objectivity and is particularly useful for demonstrating that you understand human factors risks, which you can refer to in a safety report or case if you are a COMAH site, offshore establishment etc.
    An additional benefit of the scoring system is that it can highlight anomalies in the way you manage human factors risks without going through the time and effort of carrying out a full task analysis. For example one of the scores asks about the vulnerability to error. If you score highly on that criteria it is suggesting that constant vigilance is required. Given that we know humans are not great at vigilance this score can prompt you to consider whether the current task method is safe or whether arrangements need to be changed. Another score is about overriding safety devices. Again, if you score this high it prompts you to consider whether it is appropriate that a task requires safety devices to be overridden.
  • Step 3 is analysing the tasks that had the highest score in step 2. I’m not planning to talk much about this today because I think it is very much a standard technique for anyone working in human factors. But I would point out that a lot of people have a negative perception because they can see how long it takes per task and think they have to analyse every task. That is why the first 2 steps in the process are so important. Also, it doesn’t help that a lot of people only engage with task analysis because someone says they have to.
    My experience is that every time we have done a task analysis properly we have learnt something.
  • Properly means involving the right people, putting procedures aside, keeping to a good structure and carrying out a human error analysis. This last bit can be a bit of a drag, but it is very interesting how often new issues come to light when you look back at the analysis you have just completed. Recently we analysed how to test a trip function. We had accepted that overrides would be required, but when we looked at the potential errors we realised there was a significant vulnerability. As a result we concluded that a completely different method was required.
  • The fourth stage is probably the most important, and it is to actual do something with the findings. Unfortunately it is often be overlooked. I suspect because a lot of people have got involve because they have been told they have to do it.
    We should always be asking ourselves how risks can be engineered out. This is relatively straightforward when we are involved in the design stage for new projects, although task analysis often carried out too late to make fundamental changes. This is a factor where the 4 step process can help because you can develop task lists and criticality ranking very early on, and so ensure that human factors issues are integrated into the project plan.
    One outcome is invariably the development of new or improved procedures. The detailed task analysis can give us the steps to include in the procedure, but the criticality rating also gives us a guide to what type of procedure should be provided and how it should be used in practice. This requires a buy in to the idea that the same does not fit all for procedures and it is unreasonable to expect people to follow procedures for every task. Equally, for most companies the idea that a procedure must printed, followed and signed every time certain tasks are performed is a new one, which takes some time to accept.
    Although I stand by the basic guidance based on criticality, I have come across quite a number of situations where people are performing some of the most critical tasks on a very regular basis. People are often tempted to try and re-score the task, but I think this is not acceptable. The correct approach is to engineer the task so that its hazard or vulnerability to error is reduced. But this is not always possible.
    I would suggest the solution requires a much better understanding of competence. But if we have completed our task analyses correctly a lot of the information needed to define competence requirements has already been recorded.
  • Another aspect of using the output is making sure the process remain live. That means revisiting all 4 steps. For example, if there is an issue with a task there should be a number of question you ask. Was the task on the list and if not why. What criticality was it assigned and does the incident suggest this was incorrect? Was the task analysis correct and if not why? And were the findings implemented effectively.
  • Description

    Presentation to Post-Docs at Trinity College Dublin who were working on the TOSCA project

    Transcript

    1. 1. Tel: (+44) 01492 879813 Mob: (+44) 07984 284642 andy@abrisk.co.uk www.abrisk.co.uk 1 Task Risk Management Andy Brazier
    2. 2. 2 A bit about me Chemical engineer BSc - Loughborough University PhD - Edinburgh University 19 years working as human factors consultant 10 years self-employed Registered member of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF) Associate member of Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE)
    3. 3. Experience Predominantly oil, gas, chemical, power and steel industries Human factors in major accident safety Design assessments Safety critical task analysis Staffing and organisational change Clients include Shell, BP, SSE, Centrica, Tata, Syngenta, Total, Maersk etc. 3
    4. 4. Places I have works – UK & Ireland 4
    5. 5. Places I have worked – further afield 5
    6. 6. Projects I have worked on but not visited 6
    7. 7. 7 Human factors and safety Up to 80% of accident causes can be attributed to human failures All major accidents involve a number of human failures Human factors is concerned with Understanding the causes of human failures Preventing human failures An important part of managing ‘major accident safety’
    8. 8. 8
    9. 9. 1. Annulus cement barrier did not isolate hydrocarbo ns Deepwater Horizon Explosions & Fire 2. Shoe track barriers did not isolate hydrocarbo ns 7. Fire and gas system did not prevent ignition 3. Negative- pressure test accepted - integrity not established 4. Influx not recognised until hydrocarbo ns were in riser 5. Well control response actions failed 6. Diversion of mud resulted in gas venting to rig 8. BOP emergency mode did not seal well Why?
    10. 10. Initially – did not achieve seal around drill pipe Negative pressure test accepted even though integrity had not been established Did not follow agreed test method Mis- interpreted data Crew had preferred method Operationa l instruction only broad guidance Did not recognise more liquid than expected No prediction available at time Rig crew expected to know how to perform test Previous experience Not aware of specified permit requiremen ts Did not realise constant high pressure indicated a problem Plausible explanatio n (bladder effect) Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?
    11. 11. Crew busy with other activities Influx not recognised until hydrocarbon was present in riser Instructions required constant monitoring - did not specify how Crew not monitoring well Other activities interacting with pits Pits not set-up for combined activities Mud pit levels not available to monitor Why? Why?Why?
    12. 12. Well control response actions failed to regain control of the well Slow to detect the problem Crew not properly prepared in required actions Protocols did not cover the scenario Crew had not been trained to deal with the event Why? Why?
    13. 13. Working in silos 14 QRA HAZOP Human factors
    14. 14. Problem with working in silos Generally Risks not understood fully Controls less effective and/or efficient Human factors Consequence of error not recognised in human factors studies Non-human factors people make inappropriate assumptions about how humans can failure Solutions/risk controls introduce additional human factors problems. 15
    15. 15. Extracting human factors from HAZOP Safeguards with human component Monitoring and control Alarm response Training or procedure??? Safeguard maintenance Tasks considered as potential causes of deviation Recommendations. 16
    16. 16. Issues with HAZOP and human factors Not a systematic study of human factors Human factors principles not always applied (correctly) HAZOP is already demanding without adding human factors But creating good links between HAZOP and human factors could be very beneficial. 17
    17. 17. 18 Risk profile Hazard detail Engineered Human Hierarchy Task or activity 1. Instrument 2. Alarm 3. Trip 4. Mechanical Task risk management 1. HMI 2. Deviation response 3. Emergency 4. Generic competence 5. One-off risk assessment 6. Automated Prioritise according to risk of MAH QRA, HAZID Identify deviations leading to MAH HAZOP, PHR ALARP Barriers Bowtie?
    18. 18. Task Risk Management Five stage process 1. High level screening 2. Identify tasks 3. Prioritise tasks for analysis 4. Analyse the most critical tasks 5. Use the findings 19
    19. 19. 1. Screening The parts of the system to focus your effort Hazardous Complex Critical to production Systems with potential for Major Accident Hazards (MAH) – all tasks are considered to be “safety critical.” 20
    20. 20. 1. Screening - hypothetical hazardous plant Process storage – yes Reaction plant – yes Pipeline – no Water treatment – partly Instrument air – no 21
    21. 21. 2. Identify tasks Possible approaches Skip the step – people often want to dive straight into task analysis Existing procedures – assume they cover all tasks Structured brainstorming – process drawing 22 Filters Duty/standby Pumps Duty/standby DP Alarms Lo LoLo Hi Trip Storage tank Delivery tanker Group exercise
    22. 22. 2. Identify tasks This step is very simple – but encourages a systematic approach Uses for task lists ‘Gap analysis’ of procedures, training/competence systems; ‘On the job’ training programmes; Workload estimates; Managing organisational changes. 23
    23. 23. 3. Prioritise tasks for analysis Possible approaches ‘Gut feel,’ experience or ‘normal’ risk assessment HAZOP, Process Hazard Review (PHR) etc. Scoring system (see OTO 092 1999 – HSE) 24 Hazardousness of system Ignition/energy sources Changing configuration Error vulnerability Impact on safety devices Overall criticality Low Medium High 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 0-3 4-8 9-15
    24. 24. 3. Prioritise tasks for analysis Benefits of scoring tasks at stage 2 Objective Demonstration of why tasks were selected for analysis – safety reports/cases Highlight ‘anomalies’ without carrying out a detailed task analysis 25 Microsoft Excel Worksheet
    25. 25. 4. Analyse the most critical tasks Task analysis is tried and tested – but negative perceptions Time and effort Only doing it to keep the regulator happy Discoveries from every analysis - if done ‘properly’ 26
    26. 26. 27 Connect tanker to delivery point 27272727272727 Transfer fuel from road- tanker to storage Preconditions •Delivery from approved supplier •Tanker located in unloading bay Transfer fuel using tanker’s pump Disconnect tanker from delivery point Confirm tanker is OK to offload Connect earth to tanker Connect vapour recovery hose Connect delivery hose between tanker & delivery point Open valves Check for leaks Start tanker’s pump Standby & monitor throughout When complete, stop pump and close valves
    27. 27. 4. Analyse the most critical tasks Group exercise – use a data projector People share experiences and concerns Accept procedure may not reflect reality Buy in to new methods An excellent training exercise for people involved Human error analysis Look at the task with ‘new eyes’ Identify where issues have been ‘glossed over’ 28
    28. 28. Consider consequence for each step if Omitted (not carried out) Incomplete Performed on the wrong object Mistimed (too early or late) Carried out at the wrong speed (too fast or slow) Carried out for the wrong duration (too long or too short) Performed in the wrong direction. 29
    29. 29. 30303030 Task Step Possible error Existing risk control measures Consequence Additional measures 30 Conne ct earth to tanker Action omitted - Potential for static discharge to act as source of ignition Failure to achieve an earth before starting transfer. Standard practice for all tanker operations . Consider installing interlocke d earth connectio n. Earth connectio n readily available.
    30. 30. 5. Use the findings ‘Engineer out’ error potential New projects – human factors integration plan Design reviews and system modifications Procedures High criticality – print, follow and sign every time Medium criticality – reference procedures Low criticality – generic procedures and guidance How do you manage the risks the risks of critical tasks that are performed frequently? Competence system How to perform tasks Understanding the risks 31
    31. 31. 5. Use the findings Continuous review – proactive and reactive Consider all stages when examining failures 1. Why is a task missing from the list? 2. Why was criticality not assessed correctly? 3. Was the task analysis correct? 4. Were the findings used? 32
    32. 32. Differential tasks vs activities Safety Critical Task (SCT) There is a clear start and finish There are discrete steps A change of status occurs Safety Critical Activity (SCA) where the critical aspects are: Timing (when to perform the task) Tools and equipment to be used Information presentation Decision making 33
    33. 33. Examples of SCT Node start-up and shutdown Starting main items of equipment Stopping same equipment often simpler Remove, calibrate and replace relief valve or bursting disk Leak or pressure test. 34
    34. 34. Examples of SCA & how to address Control/optimise process Human Machine Interfaces (EEMUA 191/201) Emergency response Emergency planning/staffing assessment Routine maintenance/inspection Planning and scheduling Competence of personnel, permit to work One-off tasks (e.g. temporary repair) Risk assessment and management of change. 35
    35. 35. SCT or SCA depends on circumstance Changing operating mode Manual stop or trip Check/calibrate transmitter Function test trip Maintain process equipment Contractor management Prepare plant for maintenance Normal shutdown? 36
    36. 36. Conclusions Linking human factors with other process safety activities has great benefits Linking all process safety activities should be the aim Differentiating SCT and SCA helps clarify the way forward Needs to be continuous and iterative Changing the approach to human factors is not the only requirement Process safety studies need to be modified to provide better date for human factors studies. 37
    37. 37. 38

    Editor's Notes

  • So to close I will just summarise the four steps of the process.
    Identify tasks associated with the system. Consider operations, maintenance and dealing with situations that arise
    Rank tasks on the list into priorities, with the highest being the ones where we are more likely to learn the most from carrying out task analysis. We should not be analysing easy tasks
    Analyse the tasks, but make sure this is done properly involving the right people and being systematic. It is much better to complete a small number of analyses really well than to do a large number badly
    Finally use the findings. Otherwise, we have essentially wasted our time.
  • I suggest the first of the four stages of task risk management is to generate a comprehensive list of tasks for the system where we wish to apply task analysis. My experience is that this is rarely done because people want to dive straight into analysing specific tasks.
    When I do get people to accept that the starting point for our analysis should be a list of tasks they often want to simply use the list of existing procedures. However, my experience is that most organisations have not developed procedures in a very systematic fashion, and more often than not is that procedures do not exists for tasks that should be our highest priority for task analysis.
    I have found that a structured brain-storm is usually the best, asking people to work systematically through their system to identify tasks. A drawing can be particularly useful. For example, working left to right on this drawing I can see that operationally we need to receive material from a tanker, manage stock levels in the tank, changeover filters when the online one gets blocked and changeover pumps if the online fails. Also, I know we will need some system start-up and shutdown procedures. From a maintenance perspective I can see that we need to change or clean filter elements, repair the pump, calibrate instruments and test trip functions.
  • This step is very simple, and perhaps that is why people will often want to skip it. But by starting at this point people start to think more systematically, and are less inclined to pluck tasks from thin air for analysis. Also, the lists are very useful in their own right. They can be used for gap analyses.
    At one of my clients we used a macro to convert the lists into training packages that grouped tasks into modules that were printed out as a workbook that was given to trainees. Also, it is very useful to know what tasks people are doing when looking at this like workload or when managing change.
  • Step 2 of the process is to review the list and prioritise the tasks that should be analysed first. These should be the tasks where there is interaction with major hazards and where there is potential for human failure. In other words, where are we going to get the most benefit from carrying out task analysis.
    I find that peoples gut feel for which tasks are most critical is fairly unreliable. They usually choose tasks that they are familiar with, and often reassure themselves that there is not an issue with certain tasks because they have a procedure. My experience also is that both standard health and safety risk assessments and process safety analyses such as HAZOP are rarely much use, largely because the approaches taken to human factors are unsystematic.
    I have had most success with a simple scoring system. The basis for this was presented in an HSE report in 1999. I have adapted it through experience, but the basic principle is that each task is scored between 0 and 3 against five criteria. Add up the scores for a total. The ones with the highest score are the most critical and hence the highest priority for task analysis.
  • Having used this method a lot over the last few years I am fully confident that, whilst it is relatively quick and easy to do, the output is very useful. It ensures a degree of objectivity and is particularly useful for demonstrating that you understand human factors risks, which you can refer to in a safety report or case if you are a COMAH site, offshore establishment etc.
    An additional benefit of the scoring system is that it can highlight anomalies in the way you manage human factors risks without going through the time and effort of carrying out a full task analysis. For example one of the scores asks about the vulnerability to error. If you score highly on that criteria it is suggesting that constant vigilance is required. Given that we know humans are not great at vigilance this score can prompt you to consider whether the current task method is safe or whether arrangements need to be changed. Another score is about overriding safety devices. Again, if you score this high it prompts you to consider whether it is appropriate that a task requires safety devices to be overridden.
  • Step 3 is analysing the tasks that had the highest score in step 2. I’m not planning to talk much about this today because I think it is very much a standard technique for anyone working in human factors. But I would point out that a lot of people have a negative perception because they can see how long it takes per task and think they have to analyse every task. That is why the first 2 steps in the process are so important. Also, it doesn’t help that a lot of people only engage with task analysis because someone says they have to.
    My experience is that every time we have done a task analysis properly we have learnt something.
  • Properly means involving the right people, putting procedures aside, keeping to a good structure and carrying out a human error analysis. This last bit can be a bit of a drag, but it is very interesting how often new issues come to light when you look back at the analysis you have just completed. Recently we analysed how to test a trip function. We had accepted that overrides would be required, but when we looked at the potential errors we realised there was a significant vulnerability. As a result we concluded that a completely different method was required.
  • The fourth stage is probably the most important, and it is to actual do something with the findings. Unfortunately it is often be overlooked. I suspect because a lot of people have got involve because they have been told they have to do it.
    We should always be asking ourselves how risks can be engineered out. This is relatively straightforward when we are involved in the design stage for new projects, although task analysis often carried out too late to make fundamental changes. This is a factor where the 4 step process can help because you can develop task lists and criticality ranking very early on, and so ensure that human factors issues are integrated into the project plan.
    One outcome is invariably the development of new or improved procedures. The detailed task analysis can give us the steps to include in the procedure, but the criticality rating also gives us a guide to what type of procedure should be provided and how it should be used in practice. This requires a buy in to the idea that the same does not fit all for procedures and it is unreasonable to expect people to follow procedures for every task. Equally, for most companies the idea that a procedure must printed, followed and signed every time certain tasks are performed is a new one, which takes some time to accept.
    Although I stand by the basic guidance based on criticality, I have come across quite a number of situations where people are performing some of the most critical tasks on a very regular basis. People are often tempted to try and re-score the task, but I think this is not acceptable. The correct approach is to engineer the task so that its hazard or vulnerability to error is reduced. But this is not always possible.
    I would suggest the solution requires a much better understanding of competence. But if we have completed our task analyses correctly a lot of the information needed to define competence requirements has already been recorded.
  • Another aspect of using the output is making sure the process remain live. That means revisiting all 4 steps. For example, if there is an issue with a task there should be a number of question you ask. Was the task on the list and if not why. What criticality was it assigned and does the incident suggest this was incorrect? Was the task analysis correct and if not why? And were the findings implemented effectively.
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