Safety critical environments – e.g. chemical and nuclear plants, oil and gas installations, manufacturing sites - typically present a high degree of complexity, especially in relation to the many causal interactions between technical, human and organizational elements. Such a structure poses a challenge for industrial safety, since it often produces unpredictable system behaviours that can in turn cause abnormal workers’ behaviours, with an increased risk of accidents that can have even catastrophic consequences. Human factors have a crucial role in such contexts and structured behavioural interventions can have a deep impact, but their application has to take into account some prerogatives of the specific context.
The present study aims to provide a picture of how human factors impact on the safety of complex high-risk industrial sites and how the above-mentioned interactions can be modelled. Methodologies with which behavioural interventions can be re-formulated, in order to be effective in critical contexts, are outlined. In addition, attention is focused on the topic of the road transport of dangerous goods, whose critical issues still appear to be underestimated and not sufficiently regulated by European legislation. The usefulness of Resilience Engineering interventions, helping people manage complexity under pressure while aiming to reach a satisfactory safety level, is finally evaluated.