Understanding Human Performance in the Nuclear Industry

In the Nuclear Industry there is significant emphasis placed on the individual responsiveness and attitudes in maintaining Nuclear Safety.

The Nuclear Industry uses five principles of Human Performance:

  1. People are fallible, and even the best people make mistakes. Human Performance should not be the sole control to manage activities critical to plant or equipment safety. Other additional defences should be in place to back up an individual’s performance such as Quality Systems, Peer Review and Checking Processes as well as physical back-up systems.
  2. Error-likely situations are predictable, manageable, and preventable.
    Recognising error traps and actively communicating these hazards to others to manage situations proactively and prevent errors and incidents.
  3. Individual behaviour is influenced by organisational processes and values. Poor management and control systems are often the root causes of human performance problems by applying time pressures, having poorly written control processes and providing a poor working environment.
  4. People achieve high levels of performance largely because of the
    encouragement and reinforcement received from leaders.
    Management has a key role in enforcing good behaviour and discouraging poor behaviour.
  5. Events can be avoided through an understanding of the reasons mistakes occur and application of the lessons learned from past events (or errors). Improvement in Human Performance has historically been the outcome of corrective actions derived from an analysis of past events and mistakes.

Error Reduction Techniques

Robust management of work execution using error prevention tools has been shown to significantly reduce the frequency of errors occurring on nuclear plant. A series of tools have been developed that form a set of barriers or “defence in depth”. These tools are used dependant on the task being completed, for example not every task needs an independent verification but there will always be a Pre-Job Brief.

The 10 Error Reduction Tools employed in the nuclear industry are:

  • Pre-Job Briefs
  • Review of Operating Experience
  • Procedure Use and Adherence
  • Self Checking –the STAR (Stop Think Act Review) Principal
  • Maintaining a Questioning Attitude
  • Peer Checking of Work
  • Independent Verification e.g. by an Engineer
  • Clarity of Communication Techniques
  • Post Job Brief
  • Task Observation / Coaching

In an environment where safety and quality are the overriding priorities the way in which work is carried out is different with much higher levels of supervision and checks.

This makes sure that work is done Right First Time

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If you are interested in talking to someone about Nuclear Safety Culture, nuclear training or recruiting the right people to work in Nuclear, contact Jackie Stone at A2O People: jackie.stone@a2opeople.co.uk

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