Monday, February 14, 2011

Marine Transport Experts Study The Human Factor

Further Improvements in Health and Safety Possible
Shipping News Feature

UK – One of the intangible elements in arranging a totally safe working environment has always been human fallibility, a problem addressed by a new report prepared by a member of vessel classification group and transport and energy advisers Lloyds Register in collaboration with the Energy Institute and the UK Health & Safety Executive (UK HSE).

Lloyds Register EMEA provides independent assurance to companies operating high-risk, capital-intensive assets in the energy and transportation sectors and this latest study, although primarily aimed at the energy and transportation industries, presents any company with a practical way to measure the human factors 'health' of their safety regimes, potentially opening the way to significant advances in workplace safety, environmental stewardship and operational efficiency.

Richard Sadler the Chief Executive of Lloyd's Register believes that there have been big improvements in asset quality and management systems over the past decade, leaving human factors as the final frontier where significant advances in workplace safety still can be achieved and that the report has relevance for most companies looking to better understand and manage the impact their employees have on safe and efficient operations. He commented:

"This report is significant in that it proposes a set of metrics and provides information that will allow the process industry to accurately measure the human factors that affect the safety performance of the organisation. It particularly focuses on how the workforce interacts with high-risk assets. What recent investigations of industrial incidents continue to show is that strategies for asset safety are not enough. Effective risk management must include the human part of the interaction between people, plant and process, and that is why we continue to invest heavily in this particular area."

Identifying leading performance indicators for human factors – known as the ‘human element’ in the marine sector – will help companies to identify the areas in which they need to proactively manage the factors that affect workforce performance before it becomes a problem, while demonstrating the appropriate levels of control to stakeholders such as regulators and insurers. Rob Miles, Head of Human and Organisational Factors, Offshore Division at HSE, said:

"During our inspections and investigations, we are placing increasing emphasis on the role of safety-leaders. A key element of this is what information reaches those in leadership roles, how they understand that information and what actions they then take. We see this report as providing the framework for how such information is gathered and used, particularly on the challenging human-factors issues."

Dr Kevin Fitzgerald, research project manager and a member of Lloyd’s Register’s Aberdeen-based consulting services team said:

“This is the first time a set of key performance indicators, supported by a transparent methodology aligned with UK HSE guidance, has been made available to help companies operating in the oil, gas and process industries to manage the human aspects of safety more effectively. We have taken an established HSE methodology, adapted it, and stated how to use that to select the right key performance indicators to measure the factors that affect performance of the workforce and turn that information into action."

For a full run down of the effect of human and organisational factors look HERE.

Photo:- The effects of poor interaction by human factors on high risk assets.