Background In the nuclear industry and other safety-critical domains, recognising human behaviour as a key factor for improving safety culture is essential. Yet the focus has traditionally been on technical and procedural issues rather than human factors (HF). As HF remain both a resource and risk for nuclear safety, we need to improve our abilities to identify, analyse and learn about them. The aim of this study was to determine how the safety experts and supervisors of two nuclear power plants (NPPs) define HF, and to identify current HF procedures and the need for new HF tools as a part of safety management.
Methods We studied the current HF procedures in safety management using document analysis. Safety experts (n = 8) from two NPPs participated in a two-day workshop, in which a new HF tool was tested in the investigation of three operational events. We interviewed 22 safety experts and supervisors (20 from the NPPs, 2 from the regulator side), in order to study the current views and procedures of HF, and the development needs for new HF tools in the domain.
Results Current safety procedures, for example, event analysis, still focus on technical aspects. HF procedures are seen as a way to inhibit individual errors. Several human performance tools were implemented at the NPPs, but none of them highlighted human success factors. Current HF tools were not actively used to analyse operational events, and no tools were used to summarise information from reports or their analyses for top management purposes. There was no model for normalising personnel’s capacity after unwanted events at work: consequence management was seen more as the correcting of operative items.
Conclusions To improve HF management in the nuclear industry, practical HF tools are needed, as is stated in safety legislation and guidelines. To improve safety competence, it would be useful to further study the prerequisites and the hindrances of applying new HF tools in nuclear and other safety-critical industries.
- human contribution
- high risk industries
- practical tool
- safety solutions
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