Human Reliability Assessments of Engineering Tasks

The Brief

Baker Hughes were already working with Cogent Skills to develop a Competence Management System (CMS) for the Electrical and Instrumentation (EI) Maintenance team at the Kirby site. As part of this work, they wanted to include Human Reliability Assessments (HRAs) of the Safety Critical engineering tasks. I was asked to develop a process for conducting the HRAs on site and using the output from the analyses to support the development of the CMS.

  • I developed a template for the Baker Hughes HRAs based on the HSE requirements which also recorded site specific information.
  • We ran a pilot on two initial engineering tasks, calibration of a safety critical pressure transmitter, and removing and replacing a motor. The findings were presented to the Process Safety and Engineering Managers. It highlighted how the HRA process could add value to the engineering tasks by developing a clear definition of the task, identifying areas to reduce potential for human error, and provide specific elements to be assessed through the CMS.
  • As the initial analyses demonstrated the value of HRA, it was decided to start a programme of HRAs on all the high hazard tasks identified for the CMS, which is still in progress.
  • I also developed a template for the EI maintenance procedures and developed a procedure for the writing of the Engineering Instructions.
  • For each HRA on the Engineering Tasks, I conduct a Hierarchical Task Analysis to define the task; complete a Human Error Analysis to identify key Safety Critical steps and make recommendations for improvements, draft an engineering procedure and identify the key elements which need to be included in the competence assessments.

The Outcome

The site is progressing well with the development of a CMS which is based on the real experience of their teams in conducting the tasks. They are creating a suite of maintenance instructions to document these key tasks and have relevant and specific competence criteria against which to assess.

By reviewing the details of the maintenance tasks, specifically the testing of safety critical equipment, we have also questioned if the current methodology is sufficient to meet the needs of a COMAH site. In many cases, we have extended the definition of the testing to cover all permutations of how the equipment could fail on demand. As a result, Baker Hughes are developing a more robust testing regime as well as ensuring the competence of their maintenance personnel in these critical tasks.

“I knew that we should be addressing Human Factors for our Engineering and Maintenance team. Lorraine helped us to develop a process to analyse our engineering tasks and demonstrated how it would benefit the site. She explained the whole process and helped us to see how it connected with the CMS work which was already in progress.


Working with Lorraine on task analysis meant that we identified issues that we were not aware of previously, both generic and job specific. Lorraine’s experience and curiosity of our systems has strengthened our task definitions. She was easy to work with and was always happy to share her knowledge and understanding with the whole team.”


Chris Hough, Engineering Manager. Baker Hughes

  • Date
  • Client
  • Category