Energy Institute launches guidance on safety critical task analysis

June 16, 2011
The EI has published Guidance on human factors safety critical task analysis, produced under the guardianship of the Human and Organisational Factors Committee (HOFCOM). 

It was officially launched with a paper at IChemE Hazards XXII conference in Liverpool (April 11-14 2011), presented by author Dr. Ed Smith, DNV.

Historically, analysis of technical failures in major accident hazard (MAH) safety reports/cases has dominated over human failures.  There are some signs that this is beginning to change with a higher volume of human factors (HF) analyses being conducted. 

Regulators are also responding to public expectations concerning proactive risk management, with requirements that safety critical human tasks are comprehensively analysed and their risk appropriately assessed.

Although there are benefits in encouraging deeper analysis of safety critical tasks (SCTs), there has been a lack of available information to help those without a HF background. Non-HF specialist staff should be knowledgeable enough in safety critical task analysis (SCTA) to participate in projects, commission work and to use the results from these analyses. 

Guidance on human factors safety critical task analysis aims to help fill this gap. The intention is that HF SCTA will become part of the wider safety assessment toolbox, leading to better integration of human failure assessment into safety studies.

7 step SCTA process

This publication has drawn on many existing sources from the public domain, and has supplemented these with input from practitioners and case study material provided by industry.  It provides:

  • a 7-step methodology for conducting SCTA;
  • an overview of the most commonly used task analysis techniques;
  • example outputs from SCTAs;
  • case studies;
  • supporting practical tools used or developed by industry, and
  • examples of good and bad practice. 

Guidance on human factors safety critical task analysis is aimed primarily at those without an HF background but who have some knowledge of safety risk assessment, and is available to download or purchase from

Energy Institute launches poster pack to encourage continuous workforce involvement in safety

June 14, 2011

It is generally accepted that engagement with the workforce can lead to safer workplaces as staff become more aware of and involved in mitigating health and safety issues. 

Good workforce involvement (WFI) encourages staff and contractors to take part in the decision making process about managing health and safety, however achieving good WFI requires planned and sustained effort. 

To support safety managers and leaders in their efforts to implement effective WFI programmes, the EI has developed a series of posters to encourage colleagues to contribute to safety in the workplace.  

The WFI posters


This new poster pack can be used as part of a wider WFI campaign to help build foundations that can reach beyond mitigating health and safety issues, and are supported by Guidance on running a WFI campaign and using the WFI poster pack (free to download from the EI publications website).

The posters tackle a number of themes, such as: What stops you from communicating safety issues? What if you are the only person in your team who sees the risk? and What ideas do you have to improve safety?

They also have a distinctive visual style, deliberately avoiding the clichés associated with safety imagery; however they are not just interesting to look at, they are designed to provoke discussion.

“HSE believes that effective involvement of the workforce in how work is planned and executed is a fundamental part of achieving safety goals” said Rob Miles, Head of Human and Organisational Factors, Offshore Division, HSE, and member of the EI Human and Organisational Factors Committee (HOFCOM).

“The workforce are closest to the risks and have so much valuable experience to contribute on how tasks can be done safely. This is particularly true on some older installations where the operators and management may have changed several times and some unique operational experience can only be found through workforce involvement. We also know that engagement of the workforce through effective involvement underpins the creation and maintenance of a good safety culture.”

The WFI posters were commissioned by the HOFCOM, and are available from the EI human factors webpage

Human factors in Fukushima emergency response examined

June 9, 2011

The International Atomic Energy Agency group has been in Japan studying the human factors aspects of the emergency response at the Fukushima nuclear facility, which suffered failure to its cooling system after the Earthquake and Tsunami that affected Japan earlier this year.

“Imagine what it means when your family perhaps is affected, the tsunami destroyed your home, but you have to be onsite [responding to an emergency]” said Mike Weightman, chief of the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).    

Operational logs will be examined, and personnel interviewed to find out what took place.  Findings may affect the UK’s designs for future nuclear reactors, and may help prepare for future occurrences, whether caused by natural disasters or terrorist attacks.

Findings will be presented at a ministerial conference in Vienna, 20-24 June 2011.  An interim report was released 18 May 2011 recommending the need to review how actions arising from Fukushima may affect the UK nuclear industry – see HSE website.