Human factors engineering in oil and gas--a review of industry guidance.Work. 2012; 41 Suppl 1:752-62.WORK
Oil and gas exploration and production activities are carried out in hazardous environments in many parts of the world. Recent events in the Gulf of Mexico highlight those risks and underline the importance of considering human factors during facility design. Ergonomic factors such as machinery design, facility and accommodation layout and the organization of work activities have been systematically considered over the past twenty years on a limited number of offshore facility design projects to a) minimize the occupational risks to personnel, b) support operations and maintenance tasks and c) improve personnel wellbeing. During this period, several regulators and industry bodies such as the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM), the UK's Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Oil and Gas Producers (OGP), and Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) have developed specific HFE design standards and guidance documents for the application of Human Factors Engineering (HFE) to the design and operation of Oil and Gas projects. However, despite the existence of these guidance and recommended design practise documents, and documented proof of their value in enhancing crew safety and efficiency, HFE is still not well understood across the industry and application across projects is inconsistent. This paper summarizes the key Oil and Gas industry bodies' HFE guidance documents, identifies recurring themes and current trends in the use of these standards, provides examples of where and how these HFE standards have been used on past major offshore facility design projects, and suggests criteria for selecting the appropriate HFE strategy and tasks for future major oil and gas projects. It also provides a short history of the application of HFE to the offshore industry, beginning with the use of ASTM F 1166 to a major operator's Deepwater Gulf of Mexico facility in 1990 and the application of HFE to diverse world regions. This latter point highlights the need to consider user populations when selecting HFE design criteria, an aspect strongly emphasized in current industry guidance.