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Synergy Ergonomics

People In Complex Systems
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..Ergonomics Applications
Abnormal Situation Management
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..Human Factors Issues
Compliance with Safety Requirements
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..Nuclear Human Factors
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Stress in the Control Room
..HOT TOPICS
Aviation Security
Grid Stability
Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant







Airport Security
Since the ‘War on Terrorism’ considerable attention has been paid to airport security. New equipment has been installed and the number of security personnel has been greatly increased. However, whilst this focus has probably improved passenger confidence, the results of unannounced tests have been disappointing – baggage checkers missed over 20% of planted items; and two thirds of attempts to access restricted areas were successful.

Clearly, whilst the technology and the security systems that are being used for airport security are capable of detecting explosives and firearms and preventing unauthorised access to secure areas, the human being is currently the weak link in many of the anti-terrorism systems. In the US this has been identified as being due in a large part to poor motivation and high staff turnover, so that the emphasis has been upon improving working conditions and training. However, there are also many other human factors and ergonomics issues that, if addressed, could improve airport security.

A more detailed discussion of these issues click is given in Human Considerations in Airport / Aviation Security


Aviation Security

X-Ray checking is just one of the airport security tasks where errors can be reduced by considering human factors



Grid Stability
Recent large scale power blackouts in the Northeastern USA, London and Italy have shown how vulnerable national power distribution grids are to failures at key parts of the system.

A popular response to these failures of electrical supply has been to seek that the generators should operate with higher levels of power generation held in reserve. However, such a policy would directly increase energy usage and the associated environmental impact. Therefore, whilst in some cases it may be necessary to re-assess the amount of reserve capacity sought, it would be preferable both from an environmental and an economic standpoint to operate power distribution grids close to the minimum levels of reserve capacity necessary to sustain power distribution following the worst possible predicted power loss.

Recovery from any grid failure and the prevention of an escalation into a major blackout depends upon the operators maintaining accurate mental models of grid operations. This should enable the operators to identify potential weak points and to develop effective recovery strategies in the event of any failure. Therefore, it is suggested that more emphasis should be placed upon human factors issues, such as improving the operators interfaces and job aids. These should assist the operators to assimilate information and to aid their decision-making. It would also be beneficial to design the tasks and organise the work in a way that reduces mental fatigue and sustains the operator’s vigilance and attention.

It is also important to consider the human factors aspects of maintenance within the distribution systems, so that supply failures due to maintenance errors can be minimized.


Grid Security

Grid Control Room




Synergy starts work at Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant

Ergonomics in Eastern Europe – Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant

Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant in the Russian Federation – Synergy starts human factors assessments of control panels


Situated on the Gulf of Finland, 90 minutes drive west from the city of St Petersburg, the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant supplies power to the surrounding Leningrad district. The station comprises four units each housing an RBMK Reactor driving two 500MW turbo-generators.

A European Aid project TACIS96 is now underway to undertake an ergonomics assessment of the existing control panels and to develop an interactive validation facility based on the existing training simulator to design and evaluate candidate proposals for upgrading the control panels.

Synergy has teamed up with Data Systems and Solutions to carry out this project which will greatly benefit from an unique opportunity for co-operation and information exchange between Russian and European Ergonomists. The work commenced on March 1st and is planned for completion in November.

Human Factors assessment of control panels

Reactor control desk - Synergy will focus on the ergonomics of the instrumentation and human reliability