Human Factors: A Curriculum for Refinery Workers


This LOHP curriculum includes all the materials needed for a half-day course that introduces workers to human factors concepts.

Human factors is a new way of thinking about workplace safety. While many traditional safety theories blame industrial accidents on worker error, human factors looks deeper. It tries to identify the underlying causes of past accidents so future accidents can be prevented. To improve safety, it looks for ways to make work processes, tools, and equipment user friendly, fitting the workplace to human needs and limits.

The curriculum looks at the interface between humans and the workplace, including design of controls, engineering principles, usability of equipment, ergonomics, operating procedures, training, and staffing. The implications of this interface for worker health and safety are emphasized.

These materials were developed in conjunction with Contra Costa County’s new Industrial Safety Ordinance, passed after several major refinery accidents.

The curriculum has been used to train hundreds of refinery workers, but it is also applicable to many other industries. Training uses an interactive approach, with many group exercises and other forms of class participation.


This publication is now available online here: