Factors of importance in successful handling of major disturbances and crisis situations in petroleum production are discussed. Case studies based on interviews, questionnaires and systematic observations have been undertaken to identify critical factors in human computer design, in operator competence and attitudes and in work organization. It is shown that certain features of the humancomputer interaction become critical when serious disturbances are encountered. Likewise focusing on requirements during disturbances in particular has highlighted some new aspects of operator competence and of the work organization. The results are considered to be useful input to safety management in petroleum process plants, in formation of design specifications and in identifying need for further research regarding safety in offshore production.