Faculty of Social and Educational Sciences

Research group for Safety and Human Factors

– Research group at the Department of Psychology



About the group:

The Research group for safety and human factors is a research group within Department of psychology at NTNU. The research focus for this group is safety and human factors. Human factors use psychology to design products and create work environment that improves productivity and safety.

From a traditional perspective, safety has been defined in terms of absence of risk. However in recent years safety researchers have gathered around the notion that safety also includes the presence of organizational and human factors that enable the management of unexpected situations. In this sense, safety largely revolves around the people involved and how they recognize, perceive, respond to and organize around situations that occur. 

Psychology is important in the field of human factors and safety.  Human factors are closely related to cognitive psychology. Cognitive psychology is the study of mental processes such as attention, language use, memory, perception, problem solving, creativity, and thinking. It is important to include knowledge and methods to test how humans perceive information when new routines or products are developed.

The field of Safety and Human factors is also closely related to work and organizational psychology. Work and organizational psychology could be defined as the scientific study of human behavior and relationships in the workplace and applies psychological theories and principles to organizations. One example of how work and organizational psychology is relevant for human factors is that the Research group for safety and human factors has shown, in several studies, that how new technology and products are implemented and communicated have a large effect on how they are used. Human relationships (including e. g. management, trust, training, communication, and change processes) provide a large part of what creates safety in an organization. Knowledge and methods from work and organizational psychology are used to study human relationships in an organization.

The figure abowe shows that we have an overall MTO perspective where safety is a result of interactions between human, organization, technology and governance (green boxes). The figure also shows the themes that we have studies in our different projects (blue boxes).

Current projects:

Inter-organizational complexity:

In this project inter-organizational challenges for safety and what can be done to reduce negative safety effects of inter-organizational complexity is studied. 
NTNU project leader: Karin Laumann. PhD candidate: Vibeke Milch.
Funded by the Research Council of Norway 

Performance Shaping Factors

In this project a new lab is developed at the Department of Psychology to be used experiments on how a variety of factors shape performance in a control room setting.
This project includes a post doctoral position funded by the Faculty of Social and Educational Sciences
Project members: Karin Laumann & Martin Rasmussen.


Research group for Safety and Human factors


Doctoral graduates from our group

  • Thomas Wold: Procedures coming every day: Safety Management Systems and safety communication in high-risk industries. Supervisor: Karin Laumann (2016).
  • Gunhild Birgitte Sætren: Safety during changes. Development and implementation of automated technology in a high-risk organization. Supervisor: Karin Laumann (2016).
  • Martin Rasmussen: The Development of Performance Shaping Factors for the PetroHRA Method: A Human Reliability Method for the Petroleum Industry. Supervisor: Karin Laumann (2016).

Completed projects


In this project human reliability analysis (HRA) was adjusted for use in the petroleum industry.
NTNU project leader: Karin Laumann. PhD candidate: Martin Rasmussen. 
Funded by the Research Council of Norway

Safety management system:

This project investigated challenges with implementation and use of a safety management system in a petroleum producing company and suggestions for how to reduce these challenges.
NTNU project leader: Karin Laumann. PhD candidate: Thomas Wold. 
Funded by the Research Council of Norway

Implementation of new technology:

This project investigated how implementation of new technology affects safety and how this implementation could be improved
NTNU project leader: Karin Laumann. PhD candidate: Gunhild Sætren. 
Funded by the Research Council of Norway.