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Plant Safety is a Function of Many Different Factors...


We received a call recently from a potential client interested in safety training for operators. My antenna immediately went up (this occurs whenever training or operator error is indicated in an off-normal situation. Training is often used as a last resort to poor design.)

It took some digging, but it finally came to light that a recent incident had resulted in a unit shutdown. A near miss analysis indicated that lack of training was a contributor to the incident. (With companies limiting the addition of alarms due to overload, Im wondering if well see more emphasis on training deficiencies.)

My response to the gentleman was that, while we can certainly provide some input into their training program (the Center for Operator Performance has done interesting work in this area), more than likely, there were other human factors issues that needed to be addressed. Training is only one factor which can affect safety and performance.

Organization and staffing, alarm/display design, job design, workspace design, automation and system demands affect it as well. In this incident, was alarm overload or poor display design an issue? Were the procedures clear and precise? Were there enough operators on hand to respond effectively?

We made arrangements for a site visit to further discuss/define the problem...

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This year's Fall meeting for the Center for Operator Performance will be October 7-10 in Houston, TX. For more information, please contact Lisa Via. Guests are always welcome!


Our summer newsletter is now available. Click here!

Take our short survey on operator span of control. Click here (new window)

David Strobhar's book, "Human Factors in Process Plant Operation," is now available in both hardcover and Kindle e-book.

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