Human Factors in offshore oil industry: An application from aviation CRM

The project to develop Crew Resource Management (CRM) training for the offshore oil industry extends from previous Human Factors research with the offshore oil industry carried out in 1997 (Mearns, Flin, Fleming and Gordon).

They recommended that ‘training programmes are developed for teaching Human Factors skills…Aviation CRM provides a framework for such training because it essentially teaches skills as leadership, team-working, decision making, assertiveness and communication with the aim of reducing human error’.

The aviation industry recognized the significance of human error in accidents almost 40 years ago, and has been instrumental in the development of effective training programmes, designed to reduce error and increase the effectiveness of flight crews, known as Crew Resource Management.

Further evidence of the success of CRM comes from the Danish shipping company Maersk. They introduced Crew Resource Management for their mariners in 1994. Incidents and accidents have decreased by a third after the introduction of CRM training. All insurance premiums were lowered two years later.

CRM training has been adopted by a number of other professions including surgeons, anesthetists and the nuclear power industry amongst others. Accident analysis from many industries reveals that Human Factors appear to dominate the risks inherent in complex installations. Studies offshore have revealed similar findings: human errors are a frequent cause of accidents.

For further details of the evolution of CRM training to include Threat and Error Management (T.E.M.) training in aviation, and de facto in offshore oil industry, please see our Aviation section.