Human factors in process safety – Process Safety Management Framework published

The EI has published High level framework for process safety management, available here.

The publication provides a framework to which organisations can work to in order to effectively manage process safety. It essentially lists (at a high level) the things an organisation should be doing in order to maintain the integrity of their operations. This will allow organisations to monitor their process safety performance and give an indication of whether or not they are likely to suffer a process safety incident in the future.

The framework consists of 20 elements, within which are listed a number of expectations. Whilst many elements are more technical in nature (such as the management of safety critical devices) it is interesting to note that human factors issues appear throughout – e.g. ensuring ‘adequate numbers of competent personnel are available to fulfill defined emergency response plans’ and inclusion of human factors in risk assessments. Some elements have very well documented human factors issues associated with them – e.g. element 19 ‘incident reporting and investigation’ – and there are a number of elements that are specifically or in large part human factors issues, for example: element 1 ‘leadership, commitment and responsibility’; element 3 ‘Employee selection, placement and competency…’; and element 4 ‘Workforce involvement’.

It can sometimes be all too easy to associate human factors purely with behavioural safety (‘slips, trips and falls’) whilst overlooking its (arguably more pertinent) contributions to process safety. That human factors is intrinsic to good process safety performance, as recognised by High level framework for process safety management, is therefore very welcome.

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