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Human factors - Top ten - 2. Staffing arrangements and workload

2. Staffing arrangements and workload

Any change to the structure, population or distribution of tasks, roles and responsibilities of an organisation that may impact safety. Can be one possible focus of organisational change (see issue 1), or be part of an ongoing safety management assurance process, e.g. review, (re)assessment, demonstration or continuous improvement of staffing levels and workloads to meet the full range of foreseeable events, such as emergencies or process upsets.

Can include reduction in resources such that there are insufficient people and capabilities to deal with:

  • upsets and crises;
  • emergencies;
  • maintenance; and,
  • Safety Management System.

Introductory resources

  • Human factors briefing note no. 3: Organisational change, Energy Institute (2011), ISBN 0 85293 400 9 (  
  • Human factors topic area: Staffing levels and workload, HSE,( (See topic, ‘Staffing’).
  • Lessons from Longford: The Esso gas plant explosion, Hopkins, A., CCH Australia Ltd. (2000), ISBN 1 86468 422 4.
  • Development of the best practice guidance on optimising human behaviour for small and medium sized enterprises, Annex 4: Best practice guidance on task design for small and medium sized enterprises, PRISM (2004) (   

Practical tools

Advanced resources

  • Development of a multiskilling life cycle model, HSE CRR 328/2001, HSE Books (2001), ISBN 0 7176 2001 8 (
  • Human factors assessment of safety critical tasks, HSE OTO 1999 092, HSE Books (2000) (
  • Best practice guide: Human factors in high-demand situations for the process industries, PRISM (2004) (  
  • Stress, workload and fatigue, Hancock, P.A. & Desmond, P.A. Eds, (2001), Lawrence Erlbaum: Mahwah, New Jersey, ISBN 0 8058 3178 9.
  • Human performance, workload, and situational awareness measures handbook, Second Edition,  Gawron, V.J. CRC Press, Boca Raton, ISBN 9781420064490.



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