Following a newly trained employee having a near miss at a railway siding that wasn't the first safety incident in this location, the Occupational Psychology Centre (OPC) was given the brief to explore the safety incidents and issues at the sidings. We were asked to examine and understand the key factors in these serious safety breaches in more detail.
On top of numerous interviews with depot staff, team leaders and operators, an OPC psychologist did an intense set of observations over four consecutive 12-hour night shifts. The review included the safety factors, the people and processes involved, the knowledge and skills of the employees, and the equipment. Back at the OPC offices the psychologist completed an analysis to explore if the safety issues were driven by technological factors, job design, the equipment or if human factors were the main contributory cause.
Key things of interest
Key things of interest in the analysis were:
- The impact of sporadic intense activity, within prolonged boring gaps on solo working, and whether this was affecting employee alertness and concentration
- How fit for purpose the equipment was for the job requirements
- If there were sufficient safety checks built into the equipment and processes to prevent near miss incidents
Overall there was a real mix of environmental, organisational and human factors coming together to cause some safety issues.
“I enjoyed working on this project enormously, especially being with front line operators getting stuck into the day-to-day job activities – even if on the night shift, sacrificing sleep! It was great to be able to help a business identify really serious safety issues that those too close to the job couldn’t see.”
The OPC submitted a detailed report and key recommendations to the client for them to consider:
- Allocating two workers per shift for intense periods of activity e.g. in the early part of a night shift
- Reviewing the total job activities to justify two workers for an entire shift
- Investing in new equipment incorporating the latest safety features
- An audit of the organisation's safety culture
- Extended training for new employees to include on-the-job observation whilst their experience builds
- Utilising psychometric assessment tools for selecting trainee employees
“The OPC fully embraced this project and our concerns with safety at the depot. The psychologist undertook all aspects of the work with conscientiousness, sensitivity and a really proactive attitude. They have provided us with detailed areas for improvement in our work processes and technological improvements that are water-tight arguments for investment to mitigate these types of safety incidents happening again.”
Operations Manager who commissioned the work
So, if you are an Operations Manager or Director, a Health and Safety Manager or a CEO with key safety issue concerns, then the OPC may be able to help you with this type of human factors job analysis work. Contact us today to find out more.