Ensuring Effective Safety-Critical Communication

Effective communication requires continual effort and attention. To ensure safety in hazardous industries, two related aspects of communication stand out as particularly important: shift handover and control of work.  Our Psychologists and Ergonomists have over twenty years experience in improving the effectiveness and reliability of safety-critical communication.

Shift handover

Many major industrial incidents have involved failures of communication or misunderstandings at shift handover, for example Piper Alpha, Texas City, and Buncefield.  We have conducted many shift handover improvement projects in the offshore and onshore oil and gas, nuclear and chemical manufacturing industries. This work also formed the basis for industry guidance and regulatory inspections, and has been openly published.

Control of work

Some permit-to-work and isolation systems, despite being designed to ensure safety, are nevertheless prone to human failure. For example, the system may assume that people will perform flawlessly on every occasion, and will not make errors. This is unrealistic, and has led to fatalities and other serious incidents. By adopting a human factors perspective, we can identify the weaknesses in existing systems, and make recommendations to plug the gaps. 

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Who is it for?

This subject is of interest to operational managers and supervisors, HSE professionals, control of work specialists and regulators.

Our approach

Our approach to improving shift handover and control of work can involve the following elements

  • Educating internal company personnel about the importance of the subject, and best practice
  • Assessing existing arrangements, which can include direct observation, interviews, audits, surveys and examination of systems and documents
  • Leading internal company teams to improve current arrangements
  • Communication skills training, using a range of interactive exercises
  • Acting as an expert advisor to incident investigation teams, when shift handover or control of work are implicated in incident causation

Find out more

To find out more about developing Safety-Critical Communications and how this may be beneficial to your organisation, please telephone our Edinburgh office on +44(0)131 229 6140 or email enquiries@keilcentre.co.uk. One of our consultants will be in touch as soon as possible.

Some of our clients include:

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