Human Factors - Leadership and Behavioural Safety

Offshore installations establish effective processes for the control of electrical works, including permit to work and relevant isolations to de-energise electrical systems. Whilst these controls are well-practiced, used extensively and are effective, other controls are required at the immediate worksite.

One particular control for reducing risk is the use of barriers to prevent unauthorised access to an electrical system. Despite the importance of these barriers, their use is often omitted, leaving access to dangerous sources of electricity open to public access.

Very often, the focus is directed to the operator, questioning why barriers were not in place, questioning their motives, competencies, awareness of process and their perception of risk. It is not just our individual differences which influence the use of barriers. Our behaviour is a product of our environment.

BBS offers a structured process which can be used to understand why barriers are not used. With a good understanding, effective action can be taken to support the use of barriers. So;

  1. Be clear what behaviour you want to change . We can’t change everything in one go – be specific and focused
  2. Understand the behaviour. Engage with those who do the job and understand the things that hinder the desired behaviour. Consider factors not under the control of the person. For example time pressures, workplace norms, availability of barriers
  3. Identify what can be done to support the desired behaviour. Engage with those who do the job, identify actions to facilitate desired behaviours
  4. Take appropriate action. Implement the actions agreed with those who do the work. Check in on them now and again to see if the action is having the desired effect
  5. Understand the performance of your actions overall. Engage with people to understand the effectiveness of the action. If required, revisit and work together to ensure lasting change

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"All too often have we have seen something go wrong and the focus will go straight to a technical solution. With regards to behavioural safety it is important to help those on the front line and instead of pointing the finger of blame we try and work out exactly what went wrong, as if it could happen to one individual then there is every chance it could to another.

"To try and reduce errors look at certain behaviours and work out via certain methods (observation or interviews to name a couple) what went wrong and then how the organisation can capture this to ensure the chances of it happening again are reduced. Take the use of barriers for example, if they are not adhered to then why are they not adhered to? Is it an individual issue or does it stem for more wider (organisational) issues? To help those on the front line: examine the error and then look at the bigger picture to help reduce them occurring in the future."

Featured Resources

Human Factors in Leadership and Behavioural Safety - Regulatory Requirements

Regulator Guide - Offshore

  • Not applicable

Onshore COMAH

  • Not applicable


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