Human factors – the biggest challenge in offshore oil and gas safety?

A survey of offshore safety professionals, conducted in advance of the 2nd annual Offshore Safety Summit on 19-21 March 2012 in Aberdeen, has reported that 48.6% of respondents see human factors as the biggest challenge to the offshore sector at the moment.

This is compared to 10.8% who see problems with technology and equipment as the key issue, and a similar amount who believe having the right HSE processes in place and reacting to new legislation to be the biggest challenges.

Perhaps not surprisingly, nearly 75% of respondents believe that since the 2010 Gulf of Mexico incident there is more pressure being placed on industry by the regulators to improve health and safety.

This raises several questions.

There is a wealth of information available on human factors, including the EI website, HSE website, OGP and Step Change in Safety websites, and more on the way.  Does the challenge of human factors arise from there not being enough information available? (If so, what more is needed?)  Does it stem from a lack of understanding of human factors?  (What can be done?)  Is it because human factors is such a departure from the hard science and technology subjects that engineers and operators usually know so well?  Or is human factors simply a difficult subject to integrate into an organisation’s safety management system?

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