The expected and experienced benefits of Human performance tools in nuclear power plant maintenance activities: Intermediate report of HUMAX project

Pia Oedewald, Ann Britt Skjerve, Christer Axelsson, Kaupo Viitanen, Elina Pietikäinen, Teemu Reiman

    Research output: Book/ReportReport


    In recent years most Nordic nuclear power plants have implemented so called human performance programmes. The programmes typically apply predefined human performance tools (HU tools) to maximize failure free operations by preventing human errors. Despite the prominence of human performance programmes, there is little research on the basic premises behind them and the concrete beneficial effects from using HU tools remain elusive. This document describes the intermediate results of a Nordic research project HUMAX which aims at providing knowledge of the impacts of the human performance programmes and to support the designing and implementing effective HU tools. The focus is on maintenance activities. In 2013 HUMAX project carried out three case studies in Nordic NPP maintenance organisations and studied the expected and experienced benefits of HU tools. Furthermore HUMAX disseminated an international survey to human performance experts around the world to gain more insight into the motives, benefits and disadvantages of the programmes. The study is ongoing and the results presented in this report are preliminary. The results show that often the espoused goal of a human performance programme is to prevent events by reducing errors. However, the interviews indicate that maintenance personnel associate many other benefits to the HU tools than reduced number of events. Smooth execution of work tasks, less rework and smaller occupational injury risk were often mentioned as practical benefits. The benefits also included indirect safety improvements: more rigorous work practices and shared knowledge on work tasks and risks. Many of the practices have been used at the Nordic plants for a long time and there were questions why they are now labelled as HU tools and promoted with a programme. Despite of that, maintenance personnel held fairly positive view on the HU tools. However, a common opinion was that using the HU tools may require a lot of time. Further, strong focus on the tools may decrease the focus on tasks itself and impair the workers attention or judgement. In the Nordic plants HU tools were also sometimes perceived as awkward, and feelings of shame and blame may occur. Thus, the results highlight the importance of the implementation process, the way the HU tools are argued and promoted in the organisations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationRoskilde
    Number of pages62
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    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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