Katharine (Kathy) Parkes
MA MSc MSc PhD
Emeritus Visiting Researcher
My research focuses primarily on safety and health in high-risk work environments, particularly in the oil/gas industry, but also in aviation and transport. More recently, as a member of the Risk and Safety Research Group in the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford, my research interests have widened to include patient safety in hospitals and other healthcare settings,
As Reader in Applied Psychology, much of my earlier research at Oxford was carried out in the North Sea oil/gas industry, funded by the UK Health and Safety Executive. Offshore workers are exposed to remote and potentially hazardous environments in which safety risks, both individual (e.g. accident or injury) and operational (e.g. fire, explosion, structural failure) are always a significant concern. Moreover, offshore production/ drilling operations continue round-the-clock, thus imposing long work hours and night shifts. These conditions, together with safety-critical control tasks, heavy manual work, confined living conditions, and adverse physical environment, are conducive to fatigue and performance impairment, and hence to increased accident risk. Our research led to a number of safety-related recommendations, including optimum shift rosters, working hours, and living conditions, which are now incorporated in the UK Health and Safety Executive's guidance to the offshore industry.
In recent years, I have collaborated with the Centre for Safety, University of Western Australia (UWA). Among other projects, we have developed an assessment method that allows industry regulators and managers to evaluate 'fitness-to-operate' in high-risk industries; this instrument provides a systematic method of assessing the safety capabilities of potentially hazardous work sites. Currently, we are working with a multinational mining company to improve safety among maintenance personnel.The initial aim of this work is to identify factors that affect compliance with formal task procedures, and to evaluate the extent to which failure to comply gives rise to elevated safety risks. Other research on-going at the Centre for Safety include studies of safety leadership, fatigue and sleep patterns of fly-in,fly-out (FIFO) workers, safety climate in the maritime industry, and safety and communications in surgical teams. The overlap between these research areas and those of the Risk and Safety group at Oxford suggests valuable opportunities for further international collaboration.
Parkes, K. R. (2012). Shift schedules on North Sea oil/gas installations: A systematic review of their impact on performance, safety and health. Safety Science, 50, 1636-1651.
Work environment, overtime and sleep among offshore personnel.
Parkes KR., (2017), Accid Anal Prev, 99, 383 - 388
Age and work environment characteristics in relation to sleep: Additive, interactive and curvilinear effects.
Parkes KR., (2016), Appl Ergon, 54, 41 - 50
Sleep patterns of offshore day-workers in relation to overtime work and age.
Parkes KR., (2015), Appl Ergon, 48, 232 - 239
Shift rotation, overtime, age, and anxiety as predictors of offshore sleep patterns.
Parkes KR., (2015), J Occup Health Psychol, 20, 27 - 39
A conceptual framework and practical guide for assessing fitness-to-operate in the offshore oil and gas industry.
Griffin MA. et al, (2014), Accid Anal Prev, 68, 156 - 171