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Human and organisational factors

Much of the petroleum and allied industries' improved safety performance over the last twenty years has been achieved by enhanced engineering design and equipment, and latterly through safety management systems. However, there is less scope for further improvement in those areas as safety performance is reaching a plateau.

Human factors (what is human factors?) is attracting increasing interest as it offers the possibility for delivering the next step change in improved safety performance. Many of the key human factors issues are of particular relevance to petroleum and allied industry operations.


The Energy Institute human and organisational factors blog - a space for human factors and Hearts and Minds shared learning 

Human and Organisational Factors Committee (HOFCOM)

The Energy Institute's Human and Organisational Factors Committee was established in 2001 by the Safety Management Group as the UK focal point for human and organisational factors affecting the energy and allied industries. The committee aims to help industry to understand and apply human and organisational factors to its operations by: engaging the industry and its stakeholders; supporting the industry by commissioning studies, providing information and sharing knowledge. Whilst several kindred organisations are actively working in this area in the UK, Europe and globally, the  committee offers a unique forum for all sectors of the industry and its stakeholders.

For a more in-depth introduction to human factors and the EI's work in this area, see the Energy World magazine article, Driving down incidents, published in May 2010. 

If you would like more information on the EI's Human and Organisational Factors Committee, or are an employee of one of the EI's Technical Partner companies and are interested in becoming a member of the group, please contact Stuart King e:


Human factors 2017:
Human factors application in major hazard industries, 17-18 October 2017

This biennial 2-day conference returns in 2017, exploring the practical application of human factors in the management of major accident hazards (MAH). Register your place at:


Human Factors Foundation course
5 day course based on EI's Human factors professional development course material.  Takes the student from an 'awareness' level to a 'basic' level (able to begin to manage human factors).

Delivering safety culture change using the Hearts and Minds toolkit 
3 day course on managing a safety culture programme and using the Hearts and Minds toolkit.

Human factors incident investigation and analysis
2 day course on incident investigation methodologies.

Resources - guidance and practical tools 

The committee's strategy is focused on producing resources of use to the industry.  Pertinent project resources are listed in the navigation menu on the left-hand side of the page, or click here to see full project listings

Recently completed projects:  

New: Human factors briefing notes 21, 22 and 23
EI has published three new briefing notes on supervisor competence, willingness to act and workload and staffing levels.

New: Supporting safety decision making in companies: Briefing notes for Board members, managers and other leaders

This publication provides guidance on supporting good safety decision making at leadership level to enable companies to understand and manage the factors that influence decision making by leaders, and improve the quality, understanding, and flow of information at the top of organisations, in order to facilitate better informed decisions, specifically where those decisions can impact on major accident hazard safety. Each section focuses on a different aspect of supporting decision making at leadership level, including safety culture, social and cognitive biases, and risk assessment.

New: Learning from incidents, accidents and events

This publication aims to be the 'go to' resource on learning from incidents (LFI). Superseding the 2008 publication, this new publication covers the entire LFI lifecycle - incident reporting, investigation, creating recommended actions, broader learning, and evaluation.  It also covers how incidents happen, blockers and enablers to learning, and has a large focus on how to embed and sustain learning.

New: Guidance for optimising operator plant situational awareness by rationalising control room alarms
This publication is intended to be used by individuals with responsibility for designing, maintaining and improving alarm systems. The alarm usability assessment is the main deliverable of this publication.  It is a simple tool, with accompanying guidance, allowing high priority alarms (or problematic alarms) to be assessed against a simple five-stage model of how a CRO acknowledges, interprets and responds to alarms. 

The Hearts and Minds programme

The Hearts and Minds programme was developed by Shell and is based on research with leading universities. The programme uses a range of tools and techniques to help the organisation involve all staff in managing SHE as an integral part of their business. A state-of-the-art Toolkit is now available to those outside the Shell Group, thanks to a publishing agreement between the Energy Institute and Shell.

Tripod - incident and accident investigation methodologyTripod Foundation logo

Tripod is a theory for understanding the human factors aspects of incidents and accidents. It was developed to explain how and why incidents happen, and allow the root organisational causes and deficiencies to be uncovered and addressed.

There are two main Tripod tools:

  • Tripod Beta – an accident/incident investigation methodology
  • Tripod Delta – a proactive analysis tool to help prevent future incidents

Visit to find out about Tripod and Tripod accreditation.


Human factors consultants listed on Member Consultant database

One benefit of EI membership is registration of capabilities on the EI Member Consultant list. This facility has been extended to include the categories 'human factors', 'human reliability' and 'ergonomics', so that consultants offering a service to the energy industry can be readily identified.

The Member Consultant list is maintained by the EI Library and Information Service who should be contacted by those wishing to register their capabilities.

Not a member?