Nuclear Safety: A Human Factors Perspective

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For example, actual incidents are an important source of data to calibrate analytic models of human. Although difficult, it is important to collect data on human performance with new interfaces and decision aids.

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While research activities should not conflict with the operational needs of running plants or meeting training requirements, one can bring together for study experienced personnel and examples of new interfaces or decision aids. Ways are needed to allow research and operational needs to coexist and to assist one another. If mechanisms to enhance researchers' access to facilities and people are put in place, the nuclear power plant will become an application world that offers exciting research possibilities from a scientific perspective that can at the same time produce results that will contribute to enhanced safety.

Several important general problems arise when conducting research on complex human-machine systems. One is generaliz- ability. In order for the results of a particular research project to be generalizable to an industry population of nuclear operators, maintenance personnel, or managers , certain statistical criteria must be set. A second problem is a sufficiently large number of trials, people, and treatment conditions are needed to make the statistical power of the results adequate and meaningful. Because of the small population of experienced nuclear power plant person- ne] and their demanding schedules, it is frequently difficult to find a sufficient number of participants for experimental studies.

In the human factors area by far the greater number of research reports published by the NRC are not experimental studies but rather reports on methods such as task analysis , models such as simu- lations or conceptual models of task allocation , or surveys.

First age of safety management — the technology

Very few are true experiments or well designed observational studies. How can facilities be provided for the use of researchers to investigate important issues? Access for researchers to sites, simu- lators, and personnel in cooperation with the utilities and industry is critical. Pilot studies can often be conducted using part-task simulators or in laboratories, but research that is adequate to convince the utilities and the public and to bear the weight of regulation must have industrial validation.

A case could also be made for a national research facility for the study of the human factors of complex systems. A generic or. We understand that steps have been taken by the NRC to acquire such a facility in the form of three simulators. In the meantime, efforts should be made to arrange for utilities and vendors to provide facilities. Efforts should also continue to be made to foster international cooperation as a form of cost-effective research.

To summarize these points: the NRC and the nuclear indus- try should try to stimulate research activity in relevant areas of behavioral science, to use outside experts to track and synthesize this research with an eye to opportunities to apply the results to nuclear power plants, to use outside experts to maintain a coherent strategy for research needs on human-related issues, to improve the technical review of programs, to provide researchers access to nuclear power plant personnel and facilities, to sponsor the best people in the relevant behavioral areas, and to emphasize continuity and long-term progress in important areas.

The first source is the published and unpublished research literature from the areas of human factors, behavioral science, organizational theory, management science and computer science and engineering. The second source of knowledge is derivable from the ongoing programs and expertise of those institutions who sponsor or conduct research and information gathering programs related to human performance and nuclear safety.

Human Factors in Design and Construction Regulatory Perspective

This section reviews these two important knowledge sources, examines current barriers to their use, and suggests actions that, if taken, would reduce these barriers. The Existing Literature Within the past fifty years a large literature has accumulated in the fields of human factors and related behavioral and social science areas.

Some of this literature is in the form of published journal articles, theoreticalmonographs, texts, handbooks, design guides, and state of the art summaries. Even though much of this. For exam- ple, recent state of the art summaries in the human factors area by Doff, Kaufman, and Thomas , Boff and Lincoln , and Salvendy contain fundamental data and principles related to human performance In systems contexts that are applicable to nuclear concerns. While it might be assumed that the published literature would be easy to identify and access, it comes from many fields and speciality areas and therefore is covered by many differ- ent indexing, abstracting, and bibliographic services and housed in many different libraries.

Unless a potential user is well-versed in information and library science, obtaining information from these diverse sources can be a major problem. Another important source of information exists in the form of technical reports which are often not available from private or federal bibliographic search services and libraries.

For exam- ple, many relevant reports published by military laboratories and their contractors; by the NRC, the national laboratories and their contractors; by other organizations such as the Electric Power Research Institute EPRI ; and by the Institute for Electric and Electronic Engineers IEEE on human factors standards are not systematically covered by current abstracting and indexing ser- vices or readily available from most libraries. Even less available is work on performance indicators developed by the Institute for Nuclear Power Operations INPO which is seldom made public to researchers.

The inability of a typical user to quickly and easily locate, evaluate, acquire, and apply information from these published and technical report sources represents a barrier to the use of knowledge that already exists and wastes resources unnecessarily when it is duplicated. Those responsible for the administration and conduct of the human factors research of the type presented in the panel's agenda should be able to access a single bibliographic data base that con- tains abstracts of all of the published and technical report litera- ture applicable to their needs and interests.


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Such an information search and retrieval system does not now exist and should be developed. Those who administer and conduct research and those who. Such a state of the science and art review would distill, summarize, and synthesize research findings in a variety of applicable fields; identify where gaps in knowledge exist; and point to promising application areas.

It would provide an objective rather than an intuitive basis for informing regulation. While the development of such a review would be a significant undertaking, involving expertise from a variety of disciplines, its benefits would outweigh its costs. The development of the knowledge access and review mech- anisms suggested here, if jointly undertaken by the NRC, DOE, EPRI, and INPO, represents an ideal opportunity for these insti- tutions to cooperate with one another in an undertaking which does not threaten the integrity of any participant.

Ongoing Programs Another major source of applicable information can be derived from a knowledge of the ongoing research programs and expertise of the institutions concerned with the human side of nuclear power safety. We briefly describe these programs below and suggest actions that could be taken to enhance mutual cooperation and information exchange among them. Electric Power Research Institute EPRI The long-standing human factors research program of EPRI has produced a series of high quality research reports and research products that are used widely throughout the industry.

One rea- son for the success of this program has been EPRI's emphasis on developing mechanisms that ensure that the results of its re- search are transferrable to the industry that EPRI supports. Because the scope and direction of its research is largely de- fined by the industry, its program will not necessarily cover all topics that require research from a safety perspective and is likely. It Is more likely to be concerned with the human factors aspects of control room design, hardware, and software than with research on management and organizational issues.

However, several EPRI studies have been concerned with the way in which work and communications within plants is structured. EPRI is also active in developing systems based on techniques from the field of artificial intelligence and expert systems. The NRC should undertake research on methods to evaluate such sys- tems before they are incorporated into nuclear power plant oper- ations, maintenance, and training.

History of human factors

Since it is not the intent of INPO to undertake research, it cannot be expected to provide significant effort in that area. Myin-germeys ,. Kwapil , For whom the mind wanders, and when an experiencesampling study of working memory and executive control in daily life , Psychological Science , vol. Keitel, E.

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Nuclear safety: a human factors perspective

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