RISK AND THE DESIGN ENGINEER: INDIVIDUAL AND COGNITIVE FACTORS' INFLUENCE ON SAFETY PERFORMANCE

Lead Research Organisation: Loughborough University
Department Name: Business and Economics

Abstract

The design of offshore installations can increase risks to safety of workers building and using these installations. In this research, we aim to investigate how differences between designers influence the quality of designers' judgement, and how the quality of judgement influences installation safety. In the main phase of the research, we will assess individual differences between designers, quality of designers' judgements, and other factors in a sample of over 300 designers. We will assess factors that indicate designers' judgement quality (memory lapses, risky decision-taking). We will do this by asking designers to complete brief assessments several times per day over four periods of one working week. Designers will make these assessments on palmtop computers. We expect to gain over 15,000 such assessments. In this way, the indicator of judgement quality between designers takes into account periodic variations in performance, rather than relying on a single-shot measurement that could be inaccurate.We will then relate indicators of judgement quality, and designers' individual differences, to the safety of the designs they were working on during the period of the study.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description This project was concerned with factors that influence design engineers' abilities to make decisions concerning the safe build and operation of high hazard installations (specifically off-shore oil and gas platforms). The key findings indicate that:



1) Stakeholders in industry believe that designer error and safe decision making is influenced by designer competency levels, barriers to communication, attitudes to safety and time and budgetary restraints prevailing in industry.



2) Designers who seek advice from others on how to solve problems report feeling less anxious a few hours after encountering problems that those designers who do not.



3) Designers put a lot of effort into changing their work activities and schedules to solve problems are less anxious, less fatigued and able to concentrate better a few hours after encountering problems that those who do not.



4) When problems are perceived by designers to affect their work performance, designers report feeling more anxious and less motivated.



5) Hourly fatigue impedes problem-solving efforts a few hours later, but impaired levels of hourly concentration and memory performance seem to motivate problem-solving a few hours later.



6) Designers who feel their team members have a positive attitude to safety are more likely to take risky design decisions if under time pressure than designers who are less confident in team members' attitudes to safety.



7) Compared to other design teams, design teams are more likely to include risky design features in their designs if the team tends to believe they have a positive attitude to safety and the team was under time pressure during the design project.



More generally, this research indicates that workers, in this case design engineers, are active in usng the resources embedded in the design of their work, in solving problems, and the research contributes to debates concerning how workers shape the content of their own jobs on a day-to-day basis.
Exploitation Route One of the organisations involved in this research developed a training programme to enhance safety in design for their designers. It was rolled out across several sites, multiple design teams, and over 140 designers to our knowledge. In conjunction with findings from another EPSRC funded project (EP/F02942X/1), the principal investigator developed a training programme for design engineers that ran over two years at Loughborogh University that was concerned with effective and innovative design decision making. The findings of this research together with subsequent research with colleagues at the Health and Safety Laboratory in Buxton led to the development of a simple problem-solving checklist for use in organisations that is currently part of a took-kit for managing common health problems in the workplace - the development of this toolkit has been funded by the Health and Safety Executive, and it is undergoing feasibility testing. The principal investigator is one of the project team funded by the Health and Safety Executive.



The findings from this and a related project (EP/F02942X/1), especially in relation to worker agency in shaping the content of work, informed an on-line seminar presentation published through Henry Stuart Talks.



Other exploitation routes concern changes in job design to improve team working, collective problem-solving, knowledge sharing, delegated authority to make decision and solve problems, and management training to improve job design and attitudes to safety in time pressured environments. One of the organisations involved in this research developed a training programme to enhance safety in design for their designers. It was rolled out across several sites, multiple design teams, and over 140 designers to our knowledge. In conjunction with findings from another EPSRC funded project (EP/F02942X/1), the principal investigator developed a training programme for design engineers that ran over two years at Loughborogh University that was concerned with effective and innovative design decision making. The findings of this research together with subsequent research with colleagues at the Health and Safety Laboratory in Buxton led to the development of a simple problem-solving checklist for use in organisations that is currently part of a took-kit for managing common health problems in the workplace - the development of this toolkit has been funded by the Health and Safety Executive, and it is undergoing feasibility testing. The principal investigator is one of the project team funded by the Health and Safety Executive.



The findings from this and a related project (EP/F02942X/1), especially in relation to worker agency in shaping the content of work, informed an on-line seminar presentation published through Henry Stuart Talks.



Presentations and reports were made to representatives of each of the collaborating organisations in Aberdeen,Knutsford, London and Zwijndrecht. An overall summary report of has been disseminated to all industrial collaborators.



One of the researchers presented results from the project to design engineers working in Calgary, Canada at an AMEC internal safety symposium. Findings and recommendations from the research were also presented at two industry seminars held in Aberdeen and London. A four-page summary of the major findings and recommendations has been produced and distributed to research participants. This four-page summary has also been sent for distribution to the Off-shore Directorate, Health and Safety Executive and the Human Factors Division of the Office of Rail Regulation.



One of the researchers on the project (Beesley) worked for AMEC in Calgary on a short-term assignment from January to May 2008, whilst retaining employment at Loughborough. Subsequently, Beesley has returned to industry full time as a safety consultant.



Other exploitation routes concern changes in job design to improve team working, collective problem-solving, knowledge sharing, delegated authority to make decision and solve problems, and management training to improve job design and attitudes to safety in time pressured environments.



The project involved the use of personal digital assistants to collect data from design engineers, four times per day, five days per week, for up to four weeks during design projects, as well as experts' ratings of the designs produced by design teams. Collecting data in this novel has increased knowledge and capability of collecting electronic data in real time, and has fed into a co-edited book by the principal investigator and Arnold Bakker (Erasmus University).
Sectors Chemicals,Construction,Energy

 
Description A checklist developed from research done on D04863X and EP/F02942X/1 and other research with colleagues at the Health and Safety Laboratory. The checklist has been included in a toolkit for managing common health problems in the workplace funded by the Health and Safety Executive. The toolkit is under development. . Beneficiaries: Managers, workers Contribution Method: The research provided some of the main principles regarding effective problem-solving in work environments. Subsequent research found these principles were applicable to all problems, not just problems encountered by design engineers, and added a few additional principles on taking effective breaks from problems. This and related research indicated that successful problem-solving contributes to well-being as well as work performance and innovation. The research has contributed to multilevel research design. The methodological impact has been through developing knowledge of experience sampling and multilevel design and analysis of experience sampling data in organisational contexts. The knowledge is summarised in a number of places, but most especially in the book 'A Day in the Life of a Happy Worker' edited by Bakker and Daniels. Beneficiaries: Work and organisational psychologists, management and business researchers Contribution Method: Extending knowledge of conducting advanced field research methods. The work contributes to knowledge of the fluid nature of job design, and how the day to day experience of job characteristics influences important outcomes like mood, fatigue, cognitive performance and safety. The work contributes to knowledge concerning the fluid nature of job design, and how day-to-day variation in the experience of job characteristics influences important outcomes., The research has indicated how safety-related attitudes modify the impact of time pressures on safety-related decisions in engineering design teams and how designers reactions and agency in job autonomy and support influences their mood, fatigue and cognitive performance,. Beneficiaries: Work and organisational psychologists, business and management researchers Contribution Method: Advancing knowledge of the fluid nature of job design, how hourly time pressures and safety attitudes interact to predict individual and team level safety outcomes, how designers' agency in using their characteristics of their work influences their mood, energy levels and cognitive performance, how levels of fatigue and cognitive performance influence levels of designer problem-solving.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Education,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Retail
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Designing for innovation and safety: How can medical device designers do both?
Amount £256,155 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/F02942X/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2008 
End 09/2009
 
Description Innovation as it happens
Amount £3,000 (GBP)
Organisation Loughborough University 
Department School of Business and Economics
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2008 
End 12/2009
 
Description Innovation as it happens
Amount £3,000 (GBP)
Organisation Loughborough University 
Department School of Business and Economics
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2008 
End 01/2009
 
Description AMEC 
Organisation AMEC
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2006
 
Description Collaboration with Health and Safety Laboratory 
Organisation Health and Safety Laboratory
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution As a result of theoretical work and empirical work done on D04863X and EP/F02942X/1, the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) became interested in Kevin Daniels' research. Kevin Daniels now has status as a special scientific advisor to HSL and has conducted basic and policy research with HSL, some of which has been funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and involves collaboration with the consultancy Kendall Burton.
Start Year 2009
 
Description Heerema Fabrication Group BV 
Organisation Heerema Fabrication Group BV
Country Netherlands 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2006
 
Description Morgan Ashurst 
Organisation Morgan Ashurst
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2006
 
Description Sauf Consulting Ltd 
Organisation Sauf Consulting Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2006
 
Description Aetiology of work-related health and well-being 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact This is an Economic and Social Research Council award to Maria Karanika-Murray (PI, award no. RES-061-25-0344). Daniels was invited onto the steering panel for this award because of experience with multi-level research designs on D04863X.. Awarding Body - Economic and Social Research Council, Name of Scheme - First grants scheme

Unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009,2010
 
Description How Does Work Cause Stress? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was Kevin Daniels' inaugral lecture at Loughborough. Using theoretical work done on the fluid nature of job design, and how workers use resources embedded in their job design to solve problems from grants D04863X and EP/F02942X/1, Daniels argued for more recognition of worker agency in regulating their own well-being in policy and practice.


Unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description PIOP - Participatory Interventions from an Organizational Perspective 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact This is a Danish National Research Centre for the Working Environment intervention project led by Professor Karina Nielsen. Daniels was invited onto the steering panel for this award because of experience with multi-level research designs on D04863X. This is a Danish National Research Centre project led by Professor Karina Nielsen on implementing and evaluatring a work redesign intervention in the Danish postal service. Daniels was invited onto the steering panel for the research because of expertise in multilevel research design and analysis.. Awarding Body - Danish government, Name of Scheme - reviewed grant

Unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Presentation to workshop of British Chemical Industries Contractors Association 
Form Of Engagement Activity Scientific meeting (conference/symposium etc.)
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation paper presentation
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Beesley presented a summary of the research to the industry body British Chemical Industries Contractors Association via a professional development workshop.

Presentation summarised findings of entire project for industry body and drew out practical implications

Unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description Risk and the Design Engineer 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Internal safety seminar run for design engineers working for AMEC in Calgary, Canada based on the findings of the project.

Internal safety seminar run by Nick Beesley based on findings of the project while working in a consultancy capacity for AMEC

Unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description Risk and the Design Engineer 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentations and reports were made to representatives of each of the collaborating organisations in Aberdeen (AMEC), Knutsford (AMEC), London (AMEC) and Zwijndrecht (Heerema).

We received positive feedback from our industry partners on the reports and presentations on the research.

Unkown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description Risk and the Design Engineer 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A four page summary of the report on the findings of the project disseminated to the Off-shore Directorate of the Health and Safety Executive and the Human Factors Division of the Office of Rail Regulation.

We received positive feedback on the work in an email dated 5/2/2008 from Rob Miles at the Health and Safety Executive.

Unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description Risk and the Design Engineer 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Overall report on the findings of the project disseminated to the Off-shore Directorate of the Health and Safety Executive.

Unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description Training course 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact On the basis of the findings of the research and the report provided to participating companies, Morgan Ashurst developed a training course for their designers

Unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Training course on problem-solving in engineering design 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Drawing on work done for D04863X and EP/F02942X/1, Kevin Daniels developed a workshop on cognitive, behavioural and social factors in design engineering problem-solving.

The workshop was developed from work done for D04863X and EP/F02942X/1. The training workshop covered the cognitive, behavioural and social factors in design engineering problem-solving. As well as findings from the research and problem-solving tools, attendees worked through case studies developed from the research. The workshop was for post-grad students and researchers at Loughborough in engineering and design. It ran 3 times until Kevin Daniels took up a post at UEA.

Unknown impact on original trainees but training has been developed and delivered to managers (exec and f/t MBAs) and police officers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Using science and practice to improve policy. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Scientific meeting (conference/symposium etc.)
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation keynote/invited speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation on dynamic aspects of job design and how research in this area can be used to improve government policy and guidance in working conditions.

Unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Work and psychological well-being 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The podcast is an on-line seminar concerning the design of jobs and how it relates to workers' well-being and aspects of performance, such as problem-solvikng, learning and innovation. The seminar is informed by theoretical progress made in worker agency in shaping the content of their own work in this project and a related project (EP/F02942X/1)

Unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011