A Digital Approach to Making a Step Change in Reducing Human Error in Procedures

Watson, Karl (ABB Ltd, UK) | Smith, Johanna (ABB Ltd, UK)

OnePetro 

Abstract

No matter what industry or activity, when a human is performing a task, there is a possibility that the person carrying out that task could make an error. There are numerous studies showing the contribution of poor procedures towards human error, which led to an incident, ranges between 65-90%. Process Safety Management legislation such as Seveso III and OSHA 1910.119, require the use of procedures when executing safety critical tasks and as such regulators have recognized the importance of having a set of good quality procedures as part of the management of human factors.

As companies begin to embrace the concepts of digitalization and big data, the main challenge still remains … ‘how do we make a step change in reducing human error in heavily paper based operating and maintenance procedures?’

This paper will provide examples of how poor procedures have led to human error causing across industry incidents, introduce the background to human factors with respect to procedures and explain some of human error categories to which people are susceptible. The paper will then explain the road map approach that the UK regulator (UK Health and Safety Executive) has adopted as part of their Human Factors Delivery Guide. The paper then shows how the energy industry's approach return these procedures back into a paper format, fails to take advantage of available digital technologies to make the step changes in reducing human error.

This paper shows that incidents continue to occur in all industries due to human error in procedures and shows how the drive from the regulator to perform Critical Tasks Analysis can actually lead to procedures becoming less useable (f these reviews are not performed correctly). The paper will then show how taking a digital approach to meeting these new regulatory requirements provides the opportunity to digitize existing operating and maintenance procedures, enabling a structured, efficient and auditable approach to theses assessments. The paper will also show how the adoption of the available digital technologies provide new performance influencing techniques that are not available in paper-based systems.

The paper will also show how emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality can further enable the transition to these new technologies and how big data, can provide additional continuous improvements in procedures, ensure appropriate competencies are in place for field workers performing tasks and also introduce significant efficiencies to lower operation costs.

Human error continues to contribute significantly to incidents in the energy and other industries. To address this, regulators, such as the UK Health and Safety Executive, are placing new requirements on operating companies to ensure the risks associated with errors in procedures are managed more effectively. The opportunity to make a step change in reducing human error, whilst also providing an efficient work flow, will lead to safer working environments, reduce potential impacts on the environment and also provide efficiencies for operation and maintenance teams, which will lead to savings in Operational Expenditure.