The Human Factors Risk Manager
A comprehensive tool for supporting human factors analyses
The Human Factors Risk Manager (HFRM) software suite is an integrated set of human factors tools designed to support a wide range of analyses that are typically carried out in safety critical systems in the healthcare, chemical processing, aviation, power generation and other industries. These tools have been applied extensively in many projects over the past 15 years and have been shown to make substantial contributions to safety and efficiency. By providing an integrated software environment, the HFRM allows analysts to combine the results of a number of techniques when carrying out an overall analysis.
Click here to go to a technical paper that describes the functions available in the HFRM in more detail
A video demonstration of the basic hierarchical task analysis editor in HFRM
A video demonstration of more advanced functionality for risk assessments of processes and technology that can inform redesign
The following tools are provided by modules in the HFRM:
1. Risk Ranking
This tool allows the analyst to carry out a simple and rapid evaluation of the areas where human errors will have the most severe consequences. This screening analysis can be applied to prioritise which tasks or subtasks should be addressed first when embarking upon an analysis. The Risk Ranking module develops a Risk Ranking Index based on the likelihood of error and severity of consequences. The Risk Ranking Index can also include the likelihood of error recovery or consequence mitigation. A graphical risk matrix allows the risk ranking Index to be applied directly to any box in the Hierarchical Task Analysis (see below).
2. Human Factors Risk Analysis
This module provides all the tools necessary for conducting the human factors risk assessments required by many regulatory authorities (e.g. the COMAH Safety Cases required by the Health and safety Executive in the UK). Hierarchical Task Analysis (HTA) is a method for systematically documenting tasks to provide a basis for the development of training, procedures and risk assessments. HTA breaks tasks down into a graphical representation of overall task goal, subtasks and the steps within these subtasks to the level of detail required for the application. This can then be converted to a table, suitable as the starting point for procedures, training development and the risk analyses performed by the Predictive Human Error Analysis (PHEA) tool.
PHEA is analogous to the HAZOP and FMEA techniques used in engineering. The steps in the task analysis developed using HTA are evaluated by applying a set of guide words to assist the analyst in identifying possible failure modes. The consequences of these errors are then explored, and if these are severe, the analyst then documents the appropriate error prevention strategies. Typical failure modes considered are:
- Action omitted
- Action too late / too early
- Right action on wrong object
- Check omitted
- Communication omitted
- Communication too late
3. Performance Influencing Factors (PIF) Analysis
PIFs are the factors that influence the likelihood of human errors in a task. Once potential failures have been identified in the HTA and PHEA analyses described previously, this module allows the analyst to evaluate the quality of the PIFs that influence these failures and to develop suitable error reduction strategies. Built-in PIFs are provided based on the human factors research for the error categories included in tool, such as actions omitted, communication failures, and checking failures. The user can add new or edit the existing factors to include context specific PIFs that need to be considered in the analysis.
4. Automatic Procedures Generation
This facility allows a graphical task analyses developed in the HTA module to be automatically converted to a fully formatted procedure in the form of a Microsoft Word, Excel document or PDF. A built-in example procedures template is available in the software, and HRA can produce custom templates to match standard formats required by clients. This process generates comprehensive, easy to understand procedures in a fraction of the time required using conventional methods.
5. Swimlane (STEP)
A SWIMLANE, also known as a STEP (Sequential Timed Event Plot) is a graphical method for representing the sequence of events in a task. When analysing a task, SWIMLANE allows the steps to be plotted in time, and each step to be assigned to the Agent (person or object) who performs the task. In accident investigations, a SWIMLANE allows the accident sequence to be reconstructed by linking events together to show how they led to the ultimate outcome. The HFRM software allows the SWIMLANE to be automatically generated from the HTA analysis.
A SWIMLANE can also be used for process mapping. SWIMLANE allows the flow of a process to be mapped from end to end to identify who carries out various operations and tasks, and how these can fail. The SWIMLANE method is used extensively in areas such as production systems and Healthcare to gain an understanding of the flow of a product (or a patient) through a system such as a hospital. The risk assessment tool used in the HTA module is also available in SWIMLANE.
6. Human Error Prediction and Assessment (HEPA)
HEPA provides a method for quantifying human error probabilities (HEPs), based on the assessment of the Performance Influencing Factors (3) for the task being evaluated. In conjunction with the analyses produced by the Human Factors Risk Assessment module (2), HEPA can quantify the HEPs for a number of steps or subtasks, which are then combined together using Fault Tree logic to give an overall probability of failure for the whole task. The effects on error probability improving the PIFs can also be investigated.
7. Root Causes Analysis in Incident Investigations
This module is used to analyse the direct and organisational causes of errors as part of incident investigations. It can be used with a HTA or SWIMLANE to analyse the sequence of events in an incident. The tool then provides support for identifying where failures occurred and also the type of activity, e.g. actions, checking, communications, that failed. A set of standard causal factors is provided to assist the analyst in identifying typical causal factors for these types of activities. A second level of analysis is then provided to evaluate the organisational factors that may have contributed to creating the conditions that led to the errors.
8. Options Evaluation
This module is designed to assist the analyst in deciding between alternative strategies to minimise human error. The methodology allows the user to set up a set of criteria that need to be considered when choosing between alternative intervention strategies. The criteria can be weighted to represent the fact that some may be more important than others in affecting choice. The strategies are then evaluated (or ‘rated’) on these criteria to give a ‘Preference Index’ for each alternative strategy. The alternative with the highest Preference Index is normally chosen. The user can investigate the effects of changing the ratings or the relative importance weights on the order of preference. The methodology can also be used to support other decision making exercises.
The downloadable demonstration version of the program is free of charge, but is limited to a maximum analysis of 50 boxes. The cost of the software depends on the modules that are enabled. Prices on request.
Support packages are available from 20% of the purchase cost per annum. This includes, updates, bug fixes and email support.
Discounts are available for multiple licences or modules purchased at the same time
Quotations for Corporate and site licences are available on request. Educational discounts are available for bona fide organisations. Please contact us for details. All sales in the European Union are subject to VAT at the current rate. Once we have received your payment we will send you a licence key to activate the software.
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