HUMAN FACTORS AND THE RELATIONSHIP TO WORKPLACE HEALTH

HUMAN FACTORS AND THE RELATIONSHIP TO WORKPLACE HEALTH

HUMAN FACTORS AND THE RELATIONSHIP TO WORKPLACE HEALTH
AND SAFETY: A VEHICLE FOR SAFETY?
Gail Bateson, MS, Pamela Tau Lee, BS, and Laura Stock, MPH
University of California, School of Public Health
Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP)
RESULTS 1

INTRODUCTION
Following several refinery accidents, Contra Costa County passed a new
Industrial Safety Ordinance (ISO) in December 1998. One element of the ISO
requires refineries & chemical plants to establish a Human Factors (HF) Program
within a broader Safety Plan. It also requires basic HF training for employees.
LOHP developed and provided HF awareness training to refinery employees
during 2000/01, using TOT method and rank-and-file workers as trainers.

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT:

ISO IMPACT ON INDUSTRIAL SAFETY STATS:
MCAR: Major Chemical Accidents or Releases
Since Industrial Safety Ordinance Passed 1998:

BACKGROUND ON HF ORDINANCE:
The purpose of the ISO is to prevent the accidental release of hazardous
chemicals and improve accident prevention programs. Human Factors is defined
by the county as a discipline concerned with designing machines, operations, and
work environments so that they match human capabilities, limitations, and needs.

2. Improved Use Latent Conditions Checklist (LCC):
County audits recommend companies make a greater effort to train employees
using the LCC to:
understand it is a brainstorming tool to prompt further discussions
contemplate and fully understand the specific reason behind each question
record justifications, examples, and/or comments to explain a Yes or No

ISO builds on two existing federal laws: the OSHA Process Safety Standard
(PSM) and EPA Risk Management Plan (RMP) under the Clean Air Act, and the
CalARP Program. Covered plants must consider human factors during:
1. Process Hazard Analysis (PHA)
2. Root Cause Incident Investigation
3. Operating Procedures
4. Management of Organizational Change (MOOC)

DISCUSSION

WORKER INVOLVEMENT AND TRAINING:
The Human Factors component was added to ISO due to efforts of the PACE
Local Union (Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International
Union), which represents workers at all four refineries in the county.

It is difficult to separate impact of the ISO (or HF program) on plant safety given
overlapping laws. The county & EPA are developing new safety performance
indicators. See website in References box for definitions of accident severity.

Employee representatives must be involved in developing the written HF plan and
all employees must be trained on the plan.

RESULTS 2
SURVEY METHODS

1. Refresher and Specialized HF Training:
Rank and file workers need basic HF refresher training; computer-based training
does not appear to be as effective as initial classroom training with discussions
and activities. Current rank-and-file awareness of HF principles and their plants
HF program varied widely. Team members (for PHAs,II, MOOC, etc.) need
specialized training in HF principles and using the Latent Conditions Checklist, as
well as a leader with strong facilitation skills.

EXAMPLES FROM SUCCESSFUL PROGRAMS:

This survey was to evaluate the impact of the ordinance in the refineries since
it went into effect in 2001. Health and safety representatives from the union,
company PSM managers, and county oversight staff were interviewed.

1. Equipment Design:

Documents reviewed included two recent county refinery audits/inspections
and the annual report on the ISO program to the County Board of Supervisors.

better ergonomics placement of values
control panel design, e.g. consistently using green = go and red = stop on buttons
better labeling and placement of equipment, improving access by maintenance workers

Considered getting the biggest bang for the buck by one PSM manager, using
HF in equipment design has led to:

Recent county audits suggest that ISO/HF programs have improved but still many
deficiencies.
Management commitment at the top is essential; some companies have
embraced the ISO/HF program and provided staff oversight and training, while
others appear to have essentially paper programs.
A unique strength of the ISO is that the county has secure funding (through user
fees) and a staff of experienced inspectors to carry out mandated audits every 3
years) and worksite access. Oversight by the County of Board of Supervisors
and communities around the plants aid in the overall climate of expectation that
industrial companies operate safe plants.
Beyond the county, the ordinance has sparked discussions within the broader
union, corporate, and safety communities about HF, safety culture and
management safety systems. Even where companies have resisted the program,
union members say at least human factors is now on the table and part of our
ongoing discussions. Use of inherently safer technologies (part of ISO) was
proposed in 2 federal bills introduced last year.

2. MOOC and Emergency Response:
Management of Organizational Change (MOOC), measures the impact on safety
due to changes in level of staffing/reorganization. One refinery matched
proposed lower staffing levels with necessary roles during emergencies; found
jobs could not be cut. Trend toward centralized control rooms with reduced staff
make such analyses critical.

3. Operating Procedures:
Improving operating procedures (routine and emergency) is a multi-year process;
some refineries have already seen positive results. New written procedures use
uniform format, are clearer, more sequential, and make it easier to identify
potential hazards; also aids operators bidding into new units get up to speed.

REFERENCES
1.) Industrial Safety Ordinance Guidance Document, Contra Costa Health Services, December
1999. Includes Attachment A: Latent Conditions Checklist (LCC).
2.) Industrial Safety Ordinance Annual Performance Review and Evaluation Report, Contra
Costa Health Services, October 19, 2004.
3.) text of ISO 98-48.
The above 3 sources can be found at: www.cchealth.org/groups/hazmat.
4.) Audit reports of two refinery ISO programs by Contra Costa Health Services.

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