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Bridging Resilience Engineering and Human Reliability Analysis
Ronald L. Boring
aIdaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, Idaho, USA
Abstract: There has been strong interest in the new and emerging field called resilience engineering.
This field has been quick to align itself with many existing safety disciplines, but it has also distanced
itself from the field of human reliability analysis. To date, the discussion has been somewhat one-
sided, with much discussion about the new insights afforded by resilience engineering. This paper
presents an attempt to address resilience engineering from the perspective of human reliability analysis
(HRA). It is argued that HRA shares much in common with resilience engineering and that, in fact, it
can help strengthen nascent ideas in resilience engineering. This paper seeks to clarify and ultimately
refute the arguments that have served to divide HRA and resilience engineering.
Keywords: Resilience engineering, human reliability analysis
1. INTRODUCTION AND DEFINITIONS
1.1. Human Reliability Analysis Defined
Human reliability analysis (HRA) is the predictive study of human errors, typically in safety-critical
domains like nuclear power generation . Human error, in this context, describes any action or
inaction on the part of an individual that decreases the safety of the system with which he or she is
interacting. The term "human error" carries with it negative connotations , often implying blame
may be ascribed to an individual. Generally, however, HRA does not view human error as the product
of individual shortcomings but rather as the culmination of contextual and situational factors that
impinge on human performance. These factors are commonly referred to as performance shaping
factors, which serve to enhance or degrade human performance relative to a baseline .
HRA is often depicted as consisting of three distinct phases :
1. Modeling of the potential contributors to human error. This phase typically enlists some variety of
task analysis to decompose an overall sequence of events into smaller units suitable for analysis.
There is, however, no universally agreed standard for the best level of decomposition, which can
lead to confounds when attempting to compare analyses from different HRA methods. HRA is
often modeled as part of an overall probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) model of human and
system failures, in which the human unit is called the human failure event.
2. Identification of the potential contributors to human error. At this phase, relevant performance
shaping factors are selected. As with task decomposition, there is no standard list of performance
shaping factors, and there is considerable variability between HRA methods. Recently, the
standard-like Good Practices for Human Reliability Analysis  produced a set of 15 performance
shaping factors to consider at a minimum. Still, HRA methods range from a single performance
shaping factor (e.g., available time in the time-reliability methods) up through 50 performance
3. Quantification of human errors. In this phase, a human error probability (HEP) is calculated.
Each HRA method features a slightly different approach to quantification, including expert
estimation, the use of performance shaping factor multipliers, scenario matching, Bayesian
approaches, and simulations. Quantification determines the likelihood that the particular action
modeled in the previous HRA phase will fail. This error likelihood ranges from 1/100,000 for
Address correspondence to Ronald Laurids Boring, PhD, Human Factors, Controls, and Statistics Department,
Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, ID 83415, USA. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Boring, Ronald L. Bridging Resilience Engineering and Human Reliability Analysis, article, June 1, 2010; Idaho Falls, Idaho. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc833748/m1/2/: accessed October 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.