Social construction of the aetiology of designer error in the UK oil and gas industry: a stakeholder perspective

Varuni Wimalasiri, Nick Beesley, Alistair Cheyne, Kevin Daniels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The work of designers is a vital aspect of the design-construction process. Error during design of major hazardous installations can translate into risk to the safe operation of the installation. Yet designer error remains a generally neglected topic in risk research in the oil and gas industry. This paper examines the perceptions of the aetiology of designer error by exploring dialogues with various stakeholders of the design-construction process in the oil and gas industry. Twenty-three stakeholders, including designers, fabricators, clients and regulators, were interviewed using semi-structured interviews. The findings indicate that while designer competency levels, barriers to communication and attitudes to safety were among some of the main factors perceived to be causes of errors, participants also believed that these factors were somewhat reinforced by the time and budgetary restraints imposed on design projects, and driven mainly by wider pressures prevailing in the industry. Findings helped to illustrate that stakeholders in the industry perceive design error to be attributable to a combination of system-wide and latent errors, which were very different to those affecting end users in the oil and gas industry and should be addressed separately.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-73
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Engineering Design
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2010


  • Design management
  • Human factors
  • Knowledge management
  • Major infrastructural projects
  • Risk analysis and management

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