Offshore companies, along with other maritime entities, are responding to the critical role of the human element as a cornerstone of effective personnel, system, and environmental safety and performance. One of the most practical means to address the human element is through Human Factors Engineering. Human Factors Engineering (HFE) is a unique and specialized engineering discipline that integrates human behavioral and physical capabilities and limitations with traditional engineering disciplines to produce a human-system interaction that maximizes the best of both, allowing the human and system to work safely and effectively in achieving required functions and goals.

A well-defined approach is required to achieve effective integration and implementation of HFE design principles throughout the various lifecycle phases of an offshore capital project. An effective approach to integration of HFE in offshore projects is mostly rooted in many years of lessons learned, but also an evolution of military acquisitions addressing HFE throughout the process. This paper defines the resulting approach with a brief overview of the history from the federal sector that influenced some of the lessons and key elements and activities that appear in the approach for oil and gas projects.

The approach encapsulates the key HFE activities to be executed to effectively and efficiently integrate HFE into an offshore installation design and layout and associated project management systems. The HFE activities discussed herein incorporate four interrelated elements that influence how personnel can safely and efficiently perform their assigned tasks. These elements include workplace design and layout, ambient environmental considerations, as well as management and organizational issues related to the operation and maintenance of the installation.

Following the history and foundational elements, the approach presented in the paper introduces HFE activities that need to be considered throughout the various lifecycle phases. Integrating HFE design practices and principles that reflect human capabilities and limitations into a design should result in installations that are more cost-effective, safer, and easier to operate and maintain. It is also critical to note, that the earlier that HFE is integrated into a design cycle, the more cost-effective the HFE effort will become with a greater potential impact on overall business performance. This paper can be used as a foundation and roadmap for the promotion and understanding of HFE practices and principles in system design to help improve personnel performance and safety while reducing the potential for human error.

This paper discusses these factors and identifies opportunities for offshore operators and industry engineering procurement and construction (EPC) contractors to provide consistent and appropriate industry-wide integration of HFE in large projects as influenced by successful advancements made by the U.S. federal government, and gives the offshore industry examples of large-scale design efforts to learn from and build upon.

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