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Trends in HFE Methods and Tools and Their Applicability to Safety Reviews

Description: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) conducts human factors engineering (HFE) safety reviews of applicant submittals for new plants and for changes to existing plants. The reviews include the evaluation of the methods and tools (M&T) used by applicants as part of their HFE program. The technology used to perform HFE activities has been rapidly evolving, resulting in a whole new generation of HFE M&Ts. The objectives of this research were to identify the current trends in HFE methods and tools, determine their applicability to NRC safety reviews, and identify topics for which the NRC may need additional guidance to support the NRC's safety reviews. We conducted a survey that identified over 100 new HFE M&Ts. The M&Ts were assessed to identify general trends. Seven trends were identified: Computer Applications for Performing Traditional Analyses, Computer-Aided Design, Integration of HFE Methods and Tools, Rapid Development Engineering, Analysis of Cognitive Tasks, Use of Virtual Environments and Visualizations, and Application of Human Performance Models. We assessed each trend to determine its applicability to the NRC's review by considering (1) whether the nuclear industry is making use of M&Ts for each trend, and (2) whether M&Ts reflecting the trend can be reviewed using the current design review guidance. We concluded that M&T trends that are applicable to the commercial nuclear industry and are expected to impact safety reviews may be considered for review guidance development. Three trends fell into this category: Analysis of Cognitive Tasks, Use of Virtual Environments and Visualizations, and Application of Human Performance Models. The other trends do not need to be addressed at this time.
Date: September 30, 2009
Creator: O'Hara, J.M.; Plott, C.; Milanski, J.; Ronan, A.; Scheff, S.; Laux, L. et al.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Applying Human-performance Models to Designing and Evaluating Nuclear Power Plants: Review Guidance and Technical Basis

Description: Human performance models (HPMs) are simulations of human behavior with which we can predict human performance. Designers use them to support their human factors engineering (HFE) programs for a wide range of complex systems, including commercial nuclear power plants. Applicants to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) can use HPMs for design certifications, operating licenses, and license amendments. In the context of nuclear-plant safety, it is important to assure that HPMs are verified and validated, and their usage is consistent with their intended purpose. Using HPMs improperly may generate misleading or incorrect information, entailing safety concerns. The objective of this research was to develop guidance to support the NRC staff's reviews of an applicant's use of HPMs in an HFE program. The guidance is divided into three topical areas: (1) HPM Verification, (2) HPM Validation, and (3) User Interface Verification. Following this guidance will help ensure the benefits of HPMs are achieved in a technically sound, defensible manner. During the course of developing this guidance, I identified several issues that could not be addressed; they also are discussed.
Date: November 30, 2009
Creator: O'Hara, J.M.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department