Avoiding Human Error In Design
By BW (Ben) Marguglio, President, BW Marguglio, LLC
Any enterprise that is engaged in activities with the potential for public and employee harm should be encouraged, if not required to develop and implement an integrated risk management, safety management, quality management and environmental management system for the prevention of events with intolerable effects. Such a management system would establish various techniques by which to analyze the safety and quality of the designs of hardware and processes.
One such analytical technique is Failure Mode and Effects Analysis, which is particularly useful in analyzing the safety and quality of the design of a hardware item, for example a blowout preventer. A short and simplistic description of the analytical method is as follows. Each characteristic of the component is identified. For each characteristic, each mode of potential, credible failure is identified. For each credible mode of failure, the adverse effects of such failure are assessed. If any effect is intolerable, the design of the characteristic must be changed to eliminate the credible failure mode. If the design can’t be changed to eliminate the credible failure mode, something must be established to mitigate the effect of the failure – preferably something in the design, rather than in an operational procedure. (Care must be taken to identify credible failure modes that can exist due to the interaction of two or more characteristics in given states.)