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Synergy Ergonomics

People In Complex Systems
Synergy Consultants Ltd
..Industry Sectors
Defence Industry Ergonomics
Power Industry Ergonomics
Oil & Gas Industry Ergonomics
Process Control Industry Ergonomics
Transport Ergonomics

..Ergonomics Applications
Abnormal Situation Management
Alarm Reduction
Complementing / Manning
Human-Computer Interaction
Safety Cases
Training Needs Analysis
Human Error / Human Reliability Assessment

..Human Factors Issues
Compliance with Safety Requirements
Diagnostic Tasks
Operator Stress
Staffing for Safety Management
Training for Emergencies

..Nuclear Human Factors
Nuclear Safety Cases
Stress in the Control Room

Ergonomics in the Power Industry

Ergonomics in the Power Industry
Power Generation and Power Distribution

Synergy has a unique record of providing high quality Human Factors support in the Power Industry. Our ergonomics work has addressed many issues in power generation and our clients have included British Energy, National Power, the National Grid, the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate and BNFL Magnox. We have undertaken work for power utilities in Korea, Taiwan and the Russian Federation. We have carried out a number of research projects for the Industrial Management Committee’s (IMC) Generic Nuclear Research Programme.

Synergy Consultants have an in-depth understanding of human issues in power generation and distribution and we have an envied international reputation for their ergonomics work in this area. One of our Principal Consultants has the rare distinction of being a Registered Ergonomist and a Chartered Electrical Engineer.

Our extensive experience of power distribution centres and of both fossil-fuel and nuclear power plants enables us to identify potential ergonomics problems and to understand the underlying psychological or physiological issues. Thus, we are able to propose practical solutions that will reduce the risk of human error, increase safety and improve human performance.

Design Support
Synergy provides ergonomics advice throughout the design process:
  • Functional allocation studies – Synergy has developed a framework for allocating tasks between the human and machine to be applied in task design and proving manning requirements. This has been used to identify where staffing could be safely reduced in a nuclear power plant and to assess where further operator support would be necessary to achieve these reduced staffing levels.
  • Design guidelines - Synergy has a wide knowledge of relevant ergonomics guidelines and standards and has produced guidelines on several specific issues for the power industry. We have also developed a systematic method to assist design engineers in ensuring that systems conform to best ergonomics practice.
  • Interface design – Synergy has participated in the design of hardware and software interfaces for power generation and power distribution from simple local-to-plant consoles through to complete control rooms.
  • Interface upgrading – Synergy has considerable experience in providing assistance to engineers when incorporating new computer-driven interfaces within existing, more traditional, control rooms.

Recently, Synergy has been involved in design support for the Lungmen Nuclear power plant in Taiwan and has carried out an IMC research project on the development of guidance for engineers refurbishing nuclear power plant interfaces

This work has included the review, development and application of design guidelines, on-site interviews and a review of design documentation.

Ergonomics Assessment
Synergy has provided ergonomics assessments of a range of power plant systems at various stages throughout their life cycle.
  • Equipment handling – Synergy has experience of the assessment of technically demanding, safety-critical tasks, such as nuclear refuelling.
  • Safety Assessments – Synergy has carried out assessments at a number of power stations to ensure that complex tasks, that are required in the event of predicted accident scenarios, can be successfully accomplished within the allowed time limits. Safety equipment has been assessed in terms of usability, visibility and other ergonomics criteria.
  • Human reliability assessments – Synergy has undertaken both qualitative and quantitative human reliability assessments (HRAs) using accepted techniques such as HEART, PHEA and THERP. We have also been involved in the development and extension of these methods.
  • Assessment of Operating Procedures – Synergy has assessed the procedures and written instructions provided in power plants to ensure that they meet current standards and that they provide effective and accurate support for the intended operations. We have also undertaken research into the presentation of procedural information on a VDU screen.
  • Interface Assessments – Synergy has carried out assessments of human–machine interfaces at power stations, including alarm systems and related instrumentation, to ensure that they provide effective information and that they conform to current best ergonomics practice.
Recently Synergy has contributed to ergonomics assessments at British Energy and BNFL Magnox power stations. Synergy has also conducted ergonomics assessments at Grid control centres.

This work has involved the on-site assessments, walk-throughs, trials, interviews with subject matter experts and the application of ergonomics guidelines and standards.

Safety Case Development
Synergy’s long experience with the nuclear industry, both civil and defence applications, means that we have exploited and devised techniques, which are now well established, for assuring the safety of highly sensitive operations. We are completely familiar with the problems of incorporating human issues within Probabilistic Safety Assessments (PSAs) and are well versed in the application of reputable Human Reliability Assessment (HRA) Techniques.
  • Long Term Safety Reviews - Synergy undertook the Human Factors assessments of emergency responses at a number of BNFL Magnox power stations.
  • Review of Re-fuelling operations - Synergy participated in the Safety Case reviews of re-fuelling operations at British Energy power Stations.
  • Synergy has participated in research on operator stress and its potential in causing human error in power plant operations.
  • Synergy has developed techniques to assess suitable staffing regimes at power plants to meet Safety Case demands.

Synergy has provided Safety Case support for the Magnox stations, for refuelling operations and for staffing at power plants.

This work has involved undertaking HAZOPs, applying qualitative and quantitative HRA techniques, on-site walk-throughs, simulator studies, task analysis, error assessment, cognitive modelling and the development of a structured and a thorough approach to safety case assessment.

Human Factors Integration
Synergy has worked within the Human Factors Integration (HFI) framework since its inception as Manprint. Synergy fully understands the HFI domains and has carried out HFI studies for a range of military systems. Synergy believes that the principles underpinning HFI can be applied beyond the military environment and seeks to apply its systematic approach in work carried out for all Synergy clients.

Synergy has been involved in developing some of the underlying methodologies for aspects of the HFI process. For most projects an HFI Plan is developed at the outset and then the human factors work follows the programme defined in that plan. This involves undertaking specific analyses and reporting on them to the milestones defined in the HFI Plan. Potential human factors problems are recorded in a Human Factors Risk Register that also records progress in eliminating, or reducing, each risk. This ensures that human factors issues are resolved in a timely manner and provides a fully auditable trail to justify any modifications that are made to satisfy human factors requirements.