Working with gas cylinders can be dangerous, and there are a number of health and safety issues associated with their use.

One of the biggest areas of risk is human factors. Human factors is a broad term covering the environmental, organisational and job factors, and the individual characteristics of people that influence behaviour at work in a way that might impact on health and safety.

When things go wrong and accidents happen, it’s easy to directly blame the individuals involved – but the reality is that this is often an overly simplistic and counterproductive analysis. The human factors approach looks to examine all the elements that contribute towards incidents to provide a more accurate view, and to identify the areas where changes can be made.

You can read BCGA TIS 44 in full here.

Technical Information Sheet 44 – An Overview

The document looks at the human factors that can affect health and safety when working in the gases industry.

It covers the different human factors at play:

  • Organisational factors
  • Task factors
  • Individual factors

The document then sets out an example, where it explores the human factors relevant to safe gas cylinder filling.

Gas Cylinders – Human Factors Explained

Human factors can be split into three interrelated sections – organisational, task and individual. All aspects of work within the gas industry need to consider all three of these factors.

Organisational Factors

This relates to the fact that individual behaviour in the workplace is impacted by the collective characteristics of the organisation, in terms of factors like culture, communication, systems, staffing levels, supervision, resources and workload.

When looking at any incident, it’s important to consider how these factors influence and shape individual behaviour and responses to a range of scenarios.

Task Factors

The way jobs are designed and how they interface with the workplace environment, people, equipment and machinery has a real impact on health and safety. Aspects such as working hours, shift patterns, frequency of breaks, workloads and the demands expected of individuals can all have a huge effect on behaviour.

When designing job roles in the gas industry, it’s essential that this is considered, to ensure that teams are encouraged to make the right decisions.

Individual Factors

No two people are the same – and differences in physical and mental attributes, as well as experience, ability and competence levels directly affect how individuals behave and react in situations.

Ensuring that the workplace is designed ergonomically, and that people are provided with the right levels of training, guidance and information is integral to them working efficiently and safely.

Safe Gas Cylinder Filling – An Example

The document goes on to set out the human factors that should be incorporated into a safe system of work for a key task in the gas industry – the filling of gas cylinders.

This includes a range of specific action points related to the competence of staff, supervision, shift handover, risk assessment for human error, the use of mirror image panels, job aids, work planning and concentration.

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