Rule-based Level of Performance often Cause for Maintenance Errors

Abu Dhabi, UAE (November 21, 2017) – The human factor is by far the largest cause of failures and incidents. This not only goes for branches like aviation, but also for chemicals, oil & gas, energy and transportation.

Rasmussen developed the so-called Skills-Rules-Knowledge framework which defines types of behaviour of operators in processing information[1], based on earlier published work with Jensen in 1974. The essence of this framework is that it describes that operators show varied performance behaviour based on either skills (routine behaviour), rules or procedures (to trained-for problems) and knowledge (conscious attempts to solve new problems). James Reason, another specialist on human behaviour, argued that you could apply this framework in a maintenance environment too[2].

A mechanic executes various routine maintenance jobs with skill-based behaviour, applying skills he learned in practice by doing. Sometimes they even could do it in automatic pilot mode. We require rule-based behaviour for specifically trained-for maintenance problems, so complex preventive actions or repair jobs, where you need a procedure or checklist to work yourself through the job and execute it safely. Knowledge-based behaviour is required when a mechanic has to solve a new type of problem, where you only can rely on specific knowledge, experience and analytical methodologies to execute the work and solve the problem.

In practice, maintenance errors are often caused by unsafe acts, violating rule-based behaviour. Like not using technical documentation, because the mechanic thinks he knows how to do it. Or deliberately executed shortcuts or not using a procedure to save time or because the procedure is not practically workable.

PetroKnowledge have designed a Maintenance Errors – Understanding, identifying and managing the human factor in maintenance errors course that focuses on the Skills-Rules-Knowledge framework in maintenance, to understand the causes for maintenance errors in order to prevent them.

To find out more about PetroKnowledge, and enrol on one of our training programmes, contact us here.

[1] Jens Rasmussen, Skills, rules, knowledge; signals, signs, and symbols and other distinctions in human performance models, IEEE Transactions on Systems (1983)
[2] Managing Maintenance error: a practical guide, James Reason and Alan Hobbs, CRC Press (2003)


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PetroKnowledge, an ISO 29990:2010 and ISO 9001:2015 certified Company, is the Leading International Provider of Training Courses, Seminars and Workshops to the Oil, Gas, Petrochemicals & Energy Industries. Our expertise includes training topics on International Petroleum Business, International Oil & Gas Supply, Trading & Pricing, Management & Leadership, Contracts, Purchasing & Procurement Management, Project & Construction Management, Finance, Budgeting & Accounting, Human Resource Management, ILM Endorsed Training Courses, PMI® Registered Training Courses, Mini MBA Series, Intensive 2-Week Training Courses, New Training Courses & Seminars, Geology, Seismology & Petrophysics, Offshore & Marine Technology, Well Drilling & Completion Technology, LNG Process Operations, Refining & Petrochemicals, Mechanical & Process Engineering, Instrumentation, Automation & Process Control, Health, Safety & Environment, Maintenance Management, SMRP Approved Training Courses. Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, PetroKnowledge runs programmes in Aberdeen, Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Istanbul, London, Paris, Rome, Tbilisi, Vienna, Boston, California, Houston, Miami, , New York, Toronto, Abu Dhabi, Al Khobar, Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait City, Muscat, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, Singapore, Dar es Salaam, Luanda.
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