SPE Distinguished Lecture: Human Factors in Barrier Thinking

Thursday, April 6, 2017, 5:30 PM - 10:30 PM CET






Ronald McLeod

Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Social Responsibility

Human Factors in Barrier Thinking


The oil and gas industry places great reliance on layers of defenses, or barrier thinking, to protect against process safe­ty incidents. Human performance continues to be the single most widely relied on barrier, whether as a defense in its own right, or in implementing, inspecting, maintaining, and sup­porting engineered defenses. Human error, in its many forms, also continues to be a significant threat to the reliability of engineered and organizational defenses. While approaches to developing and assuring layers-of-defenses strategies have become increasingly formalized and rigorous in recent years, many organizations struggle to know how to ensure that the human defenses they rely on are as robust as they reasonably can be when those strategies are developed and implemented. Drawing on the 2005 explosion and fire at the Buncefield (UK) fuel storage site as a case study, the presentation considers issues associated with the independence and effectiveness of human defenses. The key idea SPE members should take away from the lecture is that organizations can improve the strength of their human defenses by being clearer about exactly what it is they expect and intend of human performance to protect against threats.

Ron McLeod is honorary professor of engineering psychology at Heriot-Watt University. He has more than 30 years’ experience as a human factors specialist and was Shell’s global discipline lead for human factors until March 2014. McLeod has been active in organizations including the UK National Advisory Committee on Human Factors, the Process Safety Leadership Group, the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, SPE, and the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors. He has published in scientific journals and has authored or contributed to numerous technical standards and best-practice guides. McLeod’s first book, Designing for Human Reliability: Human Factors Engineer­ing in the Oil, Gas, and Process Industries, was published by Elsevier in 2015. He holds a BSc degree in psychology, an MSc degree in ergonomics, and a PhD in engineering and applied science.

Program Outline:

17:30 – 18:00            Welcome and Reception
18:00 – 19:00            Technical Presentation and Q&A
19:00 – 22:00            Dinner and Networking


Olivia Aker Brygge
Stranden 3
OSLO, 0250


Jafar Fathi