Managing human error to reduce risk is a priority for the chemical industry and one consultancy taking steps to bring this about is Lorraine Braben Consulting (LBC).
As a Chartered Chemical Engineer with a 30-year career in the process industry, Lorraine Braben understands the challenges faced by her clients. Moreover, having significant experience in HR and Human Factors in Process Safety, Lorraine is well-placed to advise clients on risk reduction; reflected in her accreditation by the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors.
When examining major incidents, there are usually many contributing factors. It is important to recognise that people will behave in a way that makes sense to them at the time. The environment, systems and resources available will impact their behaviour and we can optimise them to create an environment which minimises undesirable behaviours or which can deal with the consequences of human error. To quote psychologist James Reason: “You cannot change the human condition, but you can change the conditions in which humans work” – which is why human factors awareness, training, and mentoring is so important.
“My work is all about supporting businesses in managing the risk of human error,” explains Lorraine. As the HSE describes: “Human factors refer to environmental, organisational and job factors, and human and individual characteristics, which influence behaviour at work in a way which can affect health and safety.”
“Most of my clients come under the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) regulations and I assist them with all aspects of Human Factors management: audits and assessments, project planning and delivery, training and mentoring.”
Mitigating risk necessitates investigating what really happens in the workplace. There is often a disconnect between ‘work as practised’ compared to ‘work as imagined’ and managers need to understand the reality of how their plants are actually operated and maintained.
“Every audit or assessment I conduct is designed around the standards for that particular industry, thereby assisting clients to identify potential gaps in their systems. Once I have this information, I can design and deliver a strategy which focuses on improving the resilience of these areas.”
Developing strategy, supporting clients to deliver their projects around Human Factors topics, or sitting in on HSE interventions all fall within Lorraine’s remit. As a qualified trainer, she also designs and delivers bespoke courses for clients, meeting their specific industry standards which helps to reduce risk by improving competence.
“I like to build long-term relationships with my clients, to gain a solid understanding of their business and provide a service which adds real value.”
Lorraine will be presenting a paper with co-author Nick Morris at the IChemE ‘Hazards 29’ Conference in May on their work to design and implement a new system for managing organisational change for an upper tier COMAH site.
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