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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 Process Control

Process Control Ergonomics
Chemical, Agrichemical, Nuclear Chemical, Food Processing, Water

Synergy provides high quality ergonomics consultancy for the process control industry. This has included assessments at petrochemical and other processing plants.

Our experience of such a wide range of process control applications 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:

  • Manning studies - Synergy has developed a systematic and analytic approach to determine the appropriate staffing levels in complex systems. This has been for warships and power stations, and the approach can be tailored for any process control application. The approach uses task analysis to assess the required staffing levels and to identify critical human factors interfaces and issues that could affect these staffing levels.
  • Design guidelines - Synergy has a wide knowledge of relevant ergonomics guidelines and standards and has produced guidelines on several specific issues for a range of process control applications. 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 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.
We have a detailed understanding of the human factors aspects of industry-specific legislative requirements, such as COMAH and SOLAS and will ensure that relevant standards, such as IEC 61508 and 61511 are fully complied with.

Recently, Synergy has been involved in design support for a new refinery central control room and for a proposed oil and gas production platform. This work included the application of design guidelines, on-site interviews, task analysis and reviews of design documents.

Ergonomics Assessment
Synergy provides ergonomics assessments of a range of process control systems at various stages throughout their life cycle.

  • Local Control Panel for Safety Critical Process in the Chemical IndustryGeneral ergonomics assessments – Synergy has made several comprehensive assessments of proposed and existing systems, including human factors assessments to demonstrate compliance with the COMAH regulations. These assessments have involved ensuring that hardware, software, alarms systems and working practices comply with ergonomics standards and guidelines.
  • Equipment handling - Synergy has experience of the assessment of technically demanding tasks.
    Emergency escape and evacuation assessments – Synergy has undertaken a human factors assessment of the escape and evacuation arrangements for an offshore facility.
  • Safety Assessments – Synergy has carried out assessments 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 its 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 operating procedures and written instructions to ensure that they meet current standards and that they provide effective and accurate support for the intended operations.
  • Interface Assessments – Synergy has carried out assessments of human–machine interfaces, 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 Oil and Gas installations.
This work has involved the on-site assessments, walk-throughs, trials and interviews with subject matter experts and the application of guidelines and standards to demonstrate human factors compliance with COMAH regulations.

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. These are fully applicable in safety critical process plants.

  • Synergy has taken part in providing support for safety case development for an off shore installation, to identify potential human errors and to ensure compliance with ergonomics guidelines and the SOLAS regulations.
  • Synergy has developed techniques for the review of interfaces and alarms at a range of process plants, in order to demonstrate operational safety and human factors compliance with the COMAH regulations.
  • Synergy uses a pragmatic evaluation procedure for alarm systems based on the EEUMA guidance, but which takes account of Synergy’s considerable experience in the design of alarm systems. This experience has involved several research projects on alarm diagnosis and alarm handling in process control tasks.
  • Synergy has developed techniques to assess suitable staffing regimes at process plants to meet Safety Case demands.
  • Synergy has participated in research on operator stress and its potential in causing human error in process plant operations.
Recently, Synergy has provided Safety Case support for an offshore oil and gas production platform and has carried out a detailed review of alarm provision at a gas distribution installation.

This work has involved review of design documentation, assessment of interface design and the application of a structured and 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 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.