Importance of human reliability in process operation: a critical analysis

Esmaeil Zarei , Faisal Khan*, Rouzbeh Abbassi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Chemical process industries (CPIs) work with a variety of hazardous materials in quantities which have the potential to have large health, environmental and financial impacts and as such are exposed to the risk of major accidents. The experience with accidents in this domain shows many cases which involve complex human-machine interactions. Human Reliability Analysis (HRA) has been utilized as a proactive approach to identify, model, and quantify human error highlighted as the leading cause of accidents. Consequently, researchers have actively worked on enhancing process safety and risk engineering since the '70s. However, despite its importance and practical implications for improving human reliability, there has not been a review of human reliability related to processing systems. The present study is aimed at presenting a systematic attempt to identify the needs, gaps, and challenges of HRA in CPI. An in-depth analysis of the literature in Web of Science core collection and Scopus databases from 1975 to August 2020 is conducted. This analysis focuses on human factors in three critical elements of CPIs: maintenance operations, emergency operations, and control room operations. The analysis synthesizes the theoretical and empirical findings, shedding light on the strengths and shortcomings of current literature and identifying research opportunities. A comparison of HRA in CPIs is undertaken with nuclear power plants (NPPs) to better understand the current stage of research and research challenges and opportunities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107607
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalReliability Engineering and System Safety
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Human reliability analysis
  • Human error
  • Process industry
  • Emergency management
  • Control room
  • Maintenance operations


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