Human performance tools in nuclear power plant maintenance activities: Final report of HUMAX project

Pia Oedewald, Ann Britt Skjerve, Christer Axelsson, Kaupo Viitanen, Rossella Bisio

    Research output: Book/ReportReport


    In recent years most Nordic nuclear power plants have implemented so called human performance programmes. Typically human performance programmes apply human performance tools (HU tools) to maximize failure free operations by preventing and/or catching human errors. Despite the prominence of human performance programmes, there is little scientific literature on the premises behind the HU programmes. Also, the concrete beneficial effects from using HU tools in nuclear power plants remain elusive. This document describes the results of a Nordic research project HUMAX which aims at providing knowledge of the impacts of the HU programmes and to support implementation of effective HU tools. The focus is especially on maintenance activities. In 2013 and 2014 HUMAX project carried out three case studies in Nordic nuclear power plant maintenance. Furthermore HUMAX disseminated an international survey to human performance experts around the world to gain insights into the motives underlying the human performance programmes and the benefits received. The results show that HU tools are introduced as error prevention techniques and it is believed that reducing the number of human errors improves nuclear safety. However, the study suggests that it may be difficult to prove measurable improvements in nuclear safety indicators. The benefits of HU tools included other than directly nuclear safety related benefits such as decreased number of occupational safety incidents and less rework. There was a general fairly positive attitude towards the use of HU tools amongst the maintenance personnel when the tools were seen as supporting the quality of work rather than as controlling methods. If not carefully planned, HU tools may complicate and slow down work processes and cause frustration among workers. A risk that task execution becomes mechanistic and HU tools dampen workers' self-initiative was reported. In order to facilitate mindful use of the tools it is crucial that the implementation process starts by thorough discussion on why, how and when each of the tools should be used in the unique cultural context. HU tools should not be used for compensating system problems, such as poor working conditions. The results of the study have been summarised in a set of recommendations to support the HU programme implementation process.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationRoskilde
    Number of pages62
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    MoE publication typeD4 Published development or research report or study

    Publication series

    SeriesNKS Reports


    • human performance tools
    • human error
    • nuclear safety

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