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Incorporating Human Factors Engineering into Risk Management

Human Factors Framework

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes


Human Factors Framework

Integrating Human Factors Into the Design and Operations Risk Framework


In order to integrate human factors into an effective framework for managing risk in hazardous industries, companies need to address several key questions:

  • How do we build a sustainable operating culture to deliver consistent behaviours within our employees, suppliers and contractors?
  • What is required to demonstrate how human factors and the associated risks are implemented in the Safety Case regime?
  • How can we mitigate human error in design and operations, by the application of best practice evaluation tools such as Safety Critical Task Analysis?
  • How can an organization build resilience to recover from a catastrophic event?


There are several critical requirements for competency development in high hazard industries, both during the project development phase and in operation. The human factors and engineering design must be satisfied, including usability, safety, reliability, and operability in the workplace and work environment.

The UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates that up to 80% of accidents are caused by human error – factors such as poor design, poor maintenance, attitudes to health and safety, inadequate training or supervision, lack of emergency preparedness, poor work planning and an ineffective organisation. As the technical complexity of equipment increases, the potential for unsafe events increases as well. However, a study by the Health and Safety Laboratory found that the two major determinants of accident rate were competency of the safety management system and the health of the safety culture, not the level of technological complexity.


What is the Human Factors discipline?

Human factors integration defined as the underlying approach and process adopted by several key industries to ensure that the optimal design of the systems, processes and jobs successfully match the human capabilities and limitations.

While more emphasis is often placed on the design and operations framework, studies has shown that the root cause of errors were the responsibility of upper management. This is seen through the key risk factors that affect risk management of major hazards.


Key Risk Factors

  • Allocation of resources (equipment and personnel)
  • Determining priorities
  • Planning and scheduling of work activities
  • Learning lessons from operating experience
  • Recognising and managing change
  • Competency assurance systems
  • Leadership
  • Risk analyses, audits, associated decision-making and action


Achieving Human Factors Integration Success

A thorough risk assessment that allows continued safe operation takes into consideration several human factors such as:

  • Ergonomic design
  • Optimised procedures
  • Supporting assessment and demonstration (e.g. during commissioning)
  • Sufficient competent personnel
  • An effective supporting organisation


Barriers to Human Factors Integration

However, common barriers to successfully integrate human factors include:

  • A lack of common understanding between project groups (HF, safety case, engineering, designers, operations) particularly relating to HF data collection and use
  • Different mindsets between project groups for solving the same problem, often expressed in different technical language
  • Misalignment of HF processes with those of relevant project areas, hampering coordination
  • Mismatch in scope between project disciplines, creating gaps in integration


HFI initiatives sometimes fail also because the scope set has been too wide that makes it hard for the management to successfully implement the program. Organisations must find the balance between Human Factors, cost, timescale and effective implementation. The consideration of human factors in design, operations, and maintenance is generally accepted practice. However, its use in shaping and improving an organisation’s approach to safety management in an integrated manner is largely untapped, and yet potentially offers the greatest rewards.


Integrating Human Factors into Safety Case


Integrating Human Factors into Design & Operations Risk Framework is a 3-day training course held from 30 March – 1 April 2020 (Singapore) and 25 March – 27 March 2020 (Kuala Lumpur). The training course will describe the best practices in the development of competency management systems and how management can identify of the types of human error and pre-conditions that increase the likelihood of error occurrence. Other topics include the ergonomic aspects of the human-machine interface, organisational cultural models and behaviours surveys, the principle characteristics of “High Reliability Organisations”, best practice leadership approaches and more.   


Integrating Human Factors into Design & Operations Risk Framework


Integrating Human Factors KL 2020


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