All at sea: an ergonomic survey of off shore production platform control rooms

Guy H Walker, Steve Waterfield, Pauline Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
123 Downloads (Pure)


Control rooms on offshore production platforms are the focal point for their safe and efficient operation. Following the Piper Alpha disaster in 1988 a sizeable body of safety literature was generated covering the Ergonomic/Human Factors issues then in play. More than twenty years have passed since that time and significant changes have occurred to how control rooms are manned and the technology now in use. As the North Sea oil industry in the UK enters a new phase in its life cycle, and becomes subject to unprecedented production and cost pressures, it is time to revisit these issues. This paper reports on a highlevel ergonomic survey covering approximately a third of all North Sea control rooms. The focus is on the adaptive capacity of the highly experienced control room operators and the current challenges to that capacity. Areas of concern include the support provided for dealing with non-routine events, the persistent issue of ‘alarm overload’, the flexibility and control of current SCADA systems, the use of control rooms for non-related tasks, and the possible role of non-technical skills training.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-731
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014


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