Proceedings of the

The 33rd European Safety and Reliability Conference (ESREL 2023)
3 – 8 September 2023, Southampton, UK

Human Factors and Safety in Automated and Remote Operations in Oil and Gas: A Review

S. O. Johnsena and S. Wingeb

SINTEF, Trondheim, Norway.


This paper explores the Human Factors of automation and remote operations through review of safety literature. The literature was selected through keyword search and snowballing. We have prioritized empirical papers and safety issues based on a systemic perspective. Automation is designed to assist the operators in high and low workload situations. When unexpected events occur and automation fails, it can lead to loss of situational awareness (SA) and reduce system safety. The motivation for remote operations has been to reduce costs and remove operators from hazards. We have not found any systematic literature reviews of safety related to automation or remote operations. Findings indicate that poor design is a root cause in about 50% of the cases. Challenges found in accident investigations are that too many causal factors are categorized as human error. Suggested good practice of user centric design in control facilities are ecological interface design, eye tracking, and design of few and appropriate alarms. There is a lack of communication between system developers and end-users. There is still the challenge of vigilance when monitoring highly automated systems. Automation seems to support safety when it is based on careful design. We see the need for exploration of remote operations and automation in safety critical operations and suggest selecting specific cases together with the industry to document experiences and safety challenges.

Keywords: Automation, Safety critical systems, Performance, Human factors.

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