Most pipeline leaks and ruptures can be attributed to some degree to human factors. Therefore, identifying, measuring and improving areas of potential human factor issues can greatly decrease the risk of pipeline failure.
‘Human factors’ refers to the study of various aspects of human characteristics and job experience, job and task design, tools and equipment design, and work environment which can affect pipeline operations and overall system performance.
Enbridge Pipelines has developed a risk assessment model that assesses the risk of human factors along the company’s nationwide liquid pipeline system. The Human Factors Risk Assessment Model generates a risk score for each aspect of the pipeline as well as an overall risk score which highlights the business areas of highest concern.
The implementation of the model included the execution of a pilot study to calibrate the model. To perform the pilot, data was collected from the control center, field and office locations through different methodologies such as survey, interview and databases available.
The results from the control room operation surveys indicate that the main areas of human error potential in the control room can be mitigated by decreasing the number of manual calculations the operators have to complete and ensuring operators aren’t taking on extra work that should be completed by other areas. These workload improvements would decrease the chance of an operator having to complete two or more control operations at the same time. Lastly, controlling the amount of phone activities that interfere with monitoring and control operations also gives an opportunity to reduce the potential for human error in the control room.
Improvements that can be made in the office to reduce human error potential include the development of a human factors standard and improving the critical procedure observation and management of change systems.
Measuring, acknowledging and mitigating human factor risks at Enbridge will yield a decrease in the risk of pipeline failure across the entire liquid pipeline system.