Human Element Risk Engineering

Minimizing human errors - the hidden secret to safety & success within your facilities

Minimizing human errors - the hidden secret to safety & success within your facilities

About Human Element Risk engineering and Control Programs

Human element risk engineering programs are a fundamental part of any loss control plan within your facility. These include systems that manage and control hot work permits, smoking, housekeeping, self-assessments, electrical hazards, fire protection, and more. Each of these systems are designed to control ignition sources, manage the presence of combustibles and assure systems function as intended.


Human ElementWhat is sometimes overlooked in fire protection programs is that the success of these programs relies on real human input. Any process can therefore be compromised as people can make mistakes — we are all human after all. These mistakes can then lead to equipment failure, fire and explosion risks, and hazards to safety. One of the most common mistakes within a facility is holding onto the idea that things have always operated this way and assuming that there is not a problem.

Generally, people do not make mistakes on purpose. The root cause of mistakes typically falls into one of 3 areas:

  1. Cognitive - The person has little to no knowledge of their actions and consequences
  2. Skill - The person lacks the tools or proficiency to perform the action correctly
  3. Commitment - The person does not value the purpose of doing the work correctly

Webinar: Understanding Fire Protection Elements


Implementation of a successful Human Element program therefore not only needs a good “process” but also leadership support for that process. This support includes employee selection, training, and providing adequate time to complete the program as intended.

The benefits of adequate training are:

  • People know what is expected of them
  • They have the skills to do their job correctly
  • A combination of knowledge and skills can be utilized to meet program requirements
  • An understanding of the consequences of failing to meet program objectives

After proper training is conducted, continuous improvement is achieved by asking employees questions to gauge their use of the program. Can they identify key parts of the program such as, its value, the proper application, and do they feel they have the requisite tools and skills to meet the program goals?

Mitigate risks resulting from human error

Hot work permits: The NFPA reports that hot work causes an average of 12,000 fires and $300 million in property damage per year. Mitigate risks with proper training for employees.

Smoking: Inside a facility, smoking should not be permitted because it can ignite combustible dust, gases, and other flammable materials.

Housekeeping: Keeping a tidy facility reduces the chance of accidents.

Self-inspection: Routinely have employees assess their work areas, equipment, and procedures.

Electrical maintenance: Implement electrical maintenance programs to ensure compliance with safety standards, and train employees on safety risks, personal protective equipment, and arc flash boundaries.

Fire protection: Minimize risks of fire and explosion with a robust training program and fire protection engineering surveys.


A self-inspection and audit program can assist in measuring the success of the Human Element control programs. These programs also provide effective feedback for training of new employees, and re-training on new or ongoing topics, ensuring that human element risks are mitigated within your facilities.

TÜV SÜD Global Risk Consultants (GRC) provides onsite audits/evaluations through property loss control inspections and assistance with training needs. Our expert consultants can work with the management team to review current processes and where appropriate, clearly define any areas for improvement.

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