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Human factors safety critical task analysis (SCTA) 

Historically there has been a disparity in major accident hazard (MAH) safety reports and safety cases between the level of analysis of technical failures and human failures, with analysis of technical failures usually dominating even though the importance of human failures is well known.

There are some signs that this is beginning to change with a higher volume of human factors (HF) analyses being conducted. There is a growing awareness within the energy and allied industries of how such studies lead to better management of the risk of human failures, with consequent improvements in safety and reductions in losses. Regulators are also responding to public expectations concerning proactive risk management, with requirements that safety critical human tasks are comprehensively analysed and their risk appropriately assessed.

Although there are benefits in encouraging deeper analysis of safety critical tasks (SCTs), there has been a lack of available information to help those without a HF background. Non-HF specialist staff should be knowledgeable enough in safety critical task analysis (SCTA) to participate in projects, commission work and to use the results from these analyses.   

Guidance on human factors safety critical task analysis 

The EI Human and Organisational Factors Committee (HOFCOM) commissioned the preparation of Guidance on human factors safety critical task analysis to help fill this gap. The intention is that HF SCTA will become part of the wider safety assessment toolbox, leading to better integration of human failure assessment into safety studies.

This publication has drawn on many existing sources from the public domain, and has supplemented these with input from practitioners and case study material provided by industry.  It provides:

  • an introduction to SCTA;
  • a 7-step methodology for conducting SCTA;
  • an overview of the most commonly used task analysis techniques;
  • example outputs from SCTAs;
  • case studies;
  • supporting practical tools used or developed by industry, and
  • examples of good and bad practice. 

Guidance on human factors safety critical task analysis is aimed primarily at those without an HF background but who have some knowledge of safety risk assessment.

Praise for this publication: "[Guidance on human factors safety critical task analysis] is an excellent document giving generic, practical guidance and a method for the qualitative assessment of 'safety-critical' tasks."

Where to access this publication

Guidance on human factors safety critical task analysis, ISBN 978 0 85293 603 0, 1st Edition, March 2011 (free PDF download, or priced hard-copy publication).

Hard copy price: £20.00 (EI member price: £15.00 - please log in before ordering to obtain EI member discount)