Following the Piper Alpha incident in the North Sea, both offshore and onshore Oil and Gas operators in the UK were required under the COMAH (Control of Major Accident Hazards) regulations to submit a Safety Case setting out how the risks in their installations were to be managed. After many years of this regime, it was realised that few Safety Cases considered the risk potential of human activities in these installations, even though the majority of major accidents could be clearly traced to errors either at the operational, design or safety management level. A new regime was implemented, in which there was a clear requirement to address human caused risks in a systematic and auditable manner. This paper sets out the regulatory requirements and processes for assessing human caused risks, and describe a series of case studies based on actual assessments to illustrate the tools and techniques that have been applied to satisfy these requirements. The extent to which the application of these tools could have anticipated and prevented some of the human failures that contributed to the Deepwater Horizon incident will be discussed.
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