2020May/JuneSafety and ESG

Industry group develops recommended practice to standardize guidance for integrating human performance into organizations

By Stephen Whitfield, Associate Editor

Standardization has become a focal point for many aspects of drilling in recent years, and human performance is no different. While companies have generally embraced the concept of human performance in their workflows, the introduction of standardized guidance in this space may go a long way in bolstering industry performance.

Following the Human Performance in Well Control Workshop in March 2019, hosted by IADC in collaboration with several member companies, a group of human performance experts has been developing a recommended practice (RP) that provides a roadmap for integrating human performance into organizations.

In July 2019, the WellsInMind Workgroup was established to examine this topic, and the Human Performance in Oil and Gas (HPOG) initiative emerged from that group to explore the application of human performance integration beyond drilling.

A draft of the RP, focusing on procedure management, was presented at an online workshop on 1 April. The goal was to solicit opinions from drilling and HSE professionals, with the intent of revising the RP before it is published. The presentation was originally planned as an in-person workshop but was moved online following the outbreak of COVID-19.

Marcin Nazaruk, a Global Human Performance and Culture Leader at Baker Hughes and a member of the HPOG Steering Committee, said the RP covers a range of applications, including human performance capability, procedures, investigations, proactive learning, engineering and design, among others.

He also noted that the HPOG designed the RP for mid- to senior-level leaders who would be in a position to make resourcing and policy-level decisions related to human performance. In their feedback, the audience pointed out that thought leaders were the best audience for the RP, regardless of their seniority within the organization.

“We have a broad range of target audiences here,” Dr Nazaruk said, commenting on the feedback. “We have senior-level and mid-level operational leaders, HSE managers, learning managers, HP specialists and even front-line supervisors. These are very different audiences, and I think that will be one of the challenges for us, determining how to best tackle that diversity of target groups.”

Chris Parker, Human Performance Lead Adviser at BP and another member of the HPOG Steering Committee, said the RP aims to help companies that wish to develop their own human performance programs but which may lack the expertise or framework to guide them.

“We need to have a resource where individuals and organizations can go, like a one-stop shop, to see what a human performance program should look like,” Mr Parker said. “How do we combine research and industry practice into one place so that organizations that may not necessarily have a human performance specialist in house will have enough guidance in developing a program?”

With regard to human performance in procedure management, Dr Nazaruk said the RP focuses on integrating the needs of end users into the design, use and review of procedures. The goal is to help companies in ensuring that their work instructions are easily accessible and represent the work-as-done, and that companies provide and manage updates and corrections based on the involvement of the end user.

The draft RP divides each covered topic into three levels, categorized by a target level of maturity an organization may achieve in human performance and procedure management.

Human performance, like engineering, is a technical discipline, and more advanced applications require technical knowledge and specialized practical experience. Therefore, the RP offers advice not only on what can be done but also how to develop relevant competencies.

The content of the RP document aligns with the Human Performance Learning Pathway, a competency development course published jointly by the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors, the Energy Institute and the International Competency Assessment Board.

“The HP Learning Pathway is a solution to enable large-scale delivery of HP competencies,” Dr Nazaruk said. “Before 2019, if you wanted to learn more about human performance, you either had to do a university degree, or read some books, or take some expensive courses. None of that is easily applicable across large organizations, nor does that provide you with practical demonstration of HP concepts. This Learning Pathway emerged from that need: How do I train 500 professionals globally on the basics of human performance?”

The RP outlines the characteristics of three levels of maturity that one would expect to see for each of the focus areas and how to develop the commensurate competencies.

Level 1 in the document is the novice level, with steps that require as little preparation as possible. Participants are directed to an HP e-learning course and are offered a range of simple and practical activities to identify HP challenges and address them accordingly.

For instance, on the topic of HP in procedure development, companies are encouraged to apply the Walk-Through/Talk-Through (WTTT) method to review procedures with end users. WTTT involves an experienced worker demonstrating and “talking through” how a procedure is carried out on location with the equipment used in their everyday operations. This method helps managers better understand the factors that increase the chances of mistakes at each step.

The goal of WTTT is to understand whether a procedure reflects a given task as done in reality, the mental model of the worker, how mistakes can happen, and what conditions make mistakes more likely.

“At Level 1 of the HP in procedures topic of the RP document, you are really learning about the basics of procedures and learning the techniques to handle problems and applying the techniques,” Dr Nazaruk said. This principle applies to all other topics covered by the document.

Level 2 of the RP guide is an intermediate level designed for organizations that already have a basic understanding of human performance. This level centers on task analysis, which is a more advanced process compared with WTTT. This is where stakeholders document the things their workers need during the development of a procedure and allow the workers to review their efforts. Dr Nazaruk said this is a simple mechanism for companies to improve their quality of procedures.

Level 3 involves the comprehensive integration of human performance with management-level systems, such as practices and competency development programs.

With regard to HP in procedures, centrally located expert resources apply user-centered design principles to create a comprehensive system that accounts for the location and accessibility of documented procedures, the ease of finding needed information within the document, the accuracy of that information, layout, formatting and feedback mechanisms.

“This level is about looking at the organization holistically,” Dr Nazaruk said. “Improvement at the management level is a part of the program now, and there are requirements in place. The competencies are more advanced and apply to a broader range of people. You’ve got operators, operational leaders, engineers, HSE and even HR. HR handles a lot of processes within an organization that influence competency.”

Mr Parker said the structure of the RP was inspired by an RP from the Dropped Objects Prevention Scheme (DROPS) Global Resource Center, which sets out the basic requirements for a dropped object prevention program that could be incorporated into existing company safety management systems.

“Many organizations have taken the DROPS RP and adapted it as a means of developing their dropped-object management programs in house. Based on that success, we felt it important to make a document that’s concise and highlights key topic areas, along with some basic background on human performance and why it’s important. It’s not going to give all of the technical detail and the ‘why’ behind each of the focus areas. This will be a starting point for the development of an HP program or guidance for that of an existing one,” Mr Parker said.

HPOG said the group expects to finalize and share the RP on their website by the end of Q2 this year. DC

About the author

Stephen Whitfield is a graduate of Rice University, where he holds a bachelor’s degree in history. He has been writing for Drilling Contractor since 2020.

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