Integrating Human Factors Into Constructability
This paper presents a structured approach to human factors, focusing on the early identification of interactions between people and their working environment beginning from the conceptual and front-end engineering phases of capital projects.
The oil and gas industry has achieved a continuous reduction in incident frequency rates in recent years, considering both process and occupational safety. Nowadays, companies involved in the business have in place structured health, safety, and environment risk-management processes and safe systems of work for nonroutine operations. Behavioral safety programs and communication campaigns constantly target the safety culture of organizations, from the workforce to supervisory and management levels. The bar of the safety expectations of oil and gas operators is raised continuously in an attempt to achieve the vision of an incident-free workplace. Despite that, incidents continue to happen, and 80% of them, which includes those in the offshore construction industry, can be attributed to human-related failures, often leaving the underlying root causes uncovered.
However, in order to proactively manage the risks, one main focus of a high-reliability organization should be the identification and elimination of those latent conditions coming from poor design, task planning, and work organization and lack of consideration of the characteristics, capabilities, and limitations of the people who will perform the job. Failing to do so ignores the fact that human-centered designed facilities and tasks conceived to suit people skills would result in improved operability, maintainability, and safety.
This paper presents a structured approach to human factors, focusing on the early identification of interactions between people and their working environment, beginning from the conceptual and front-end engineering phases of capital projects. Starting from a high-level screening of the possible human interactions with the equipment, environment, and monitoring and control systems, the project team can identify those human-performance criticalities that can affect the integrity of operations negatively or those human-factors-engineering (HFE) opportunities that may relieve operational bottlenecks, thus allowing for the implementation of new concepts and operational practices. Progressing through the project lifecycle as more detailed information on the design of the facility becomes available, more in-depth analyses (e.g., valve criticality analysis or vendor package screening) may be performed, based on the specific needs of the project. This approach, coupled with adequate competencies, can channel the efforts of the project team toward continuous improvement and of reducing capital and operational expenditures, design reworks, and turnaround times. These economically tangible benefits, together with the improvements in the area of HSE, have succeeded in attracting the interest of major oil companies, which, for several years, have been provided with dedicated HFE standards, requirements, and specifications to be implemented during the design phase of a project. A systematic approach to human factors during construction, however, currently does not exist in the industry.
The scope of this paper is to describe Saipem’s experience in the consideration of human factors during the construction/fabrication/installation phase of the project in order to propose a structured approach to the matter for the oil and gas industry.