Human factors engineering in projects – new OGP guidance

The International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP) has published new guidance on human factors engineering (HFE): Human factors engineering in projects.

Ron McCloud (Shell), who lead the development of Human factors engineering in projects, is due to present a paper on this publication at the EI’s Human factors application in major hazard industries conference (6-7 December 2011).

What is HFE and why is it needed?

It is commonly said that there are three defences against human related risk: design and engineering controls; systems (PtW, procedures, etc.); and human controls (supervision, competence, etc.).  

In an ideal world, if all risk was perfectly managed, most risk would be managed by design and engineering, some managed by systems and finally a minority by human controls.  However, in reality, human controls tend to be used for a much larger proportion of risk as it is inpractical to design plant and systems.  Furthermore, poor systems, badly written procedures, and poorly designed plant, etc., mean that ‘softer’ human controls are often used to fill the gap left by inadequate ‘harder’ design and systems controls, potentially increasing susceptibility to risk.

HFE is a multidisciplinary approach that aims to provide a structured approach to improving design and systems controls for managing risk in capital projects.  This is done through the integration of the ‘5 elements of human performance’ into engineering and systems: people, work, work organisation, equipment and environment.


Human factors engineering in projects provides a methodology for HFE as well as a number of examples of various tools and HFE activities (e.g. human HAZOP, forming a HFE working group, etc.).  Human factors engineering in projects is now available for free download from the OGP website.

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