Humber bank benefit of human factors focus

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 20 Apr 2017

GRIMSBY chemical engineer Lorraine Braben is launching her own niche consultancy after more than two decades working with hazardous environments.

Most recently human factors and competency superintendent at titanium dioxide producer Cristal, she is going solo to spread her knowledge across the Humber area, as legislative changes kick in for sites regulated under Control of Major Accident Hazards rules.

It is a specialism focusing on "managing human error within process safety, covering all the factors that go into people doing the job right, rather than making mistakes".

Mrs Braben (pictured left) said: "It is not just about the person on the frontline, it is about going behind that, looking at all the systems they operate in, the training, the procedures, management, supervision and management of change.

"It is quite wide ranging, and you are expected to understand the safety critical aspect of the job and analyse it to be able to understand where human factors come in and how to manage that risk.

"One of the reasons I have really enjoyed it is you need a good engineering understanding, but also an element of psychology as well as performance management techniques, working out what is behind certain choices and how people operate, then helping people by making it as easy as possible to get it right."

A former Havelock School pupil, Mrs Braben went to Aston University to read chemical engineering, joining the industry as a graduate with JM Davy on Teesside. She returned to the South Humber Bank in 1995, at what is now Cristal in Stallingborough.

"I continued with chemical engineering for quite a few years, then I was seconded in to HR," she said.

"My qualifications were in chemical engineering, so I went from real technical stuff to real people stuff. Then we needed someone to deal with the human factors agenda and really identify what needed to be done. I had the right mix in my background and I came to be involved, and have now been doing it for the past seven or eight years."

Process safety was complemented with training and competence in the enlarged role, which she called time on earlier this month.

Looking ahead, Mrs Braben said: "I will be based at home, my contacts are the Humber bank companies, although I do know a few people elsewhere – up in Teesside for example – so I do see it gradually expanding.

"For the first six months I'll be focusing on getting the business set up, understanding the needs of and types of clients, and the Humber is as good a chemical cluster as I am going to get for the work I am planning on doing.

"These companies have people covering various aspects, so a lot of it is understanding what the gaps are."

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