«A Systemic Approach to Oversee Human and Organizational Factors in Nuclear Facilities CLAUDIA HUMBEL HAAG1 and BERND LINSENMAIER Psychologist, ...»
4. General Oversight Approach for Nuclear Facilities A basic regulatory concept, discussed in the context of the oversight of Swiss nuclear facilities is first presented, before looking more closely at the oversight of human and organizational factors in nuclear facilities. This concept refers to a basic principle that can be applied to other entities, which are subject to governmental regulation as well.
Switzerland’s Nuclear Energy Act demands as an essential duty of the supervisory authority to ensure that licence holders meet their obligations in accordance with the provisions of the statutory and regulatory requirements. To carry out this task, the duties of
the supervisory authority are threefold:
1. establish statutory and regulatory requirements (target),
2. determine the actual status of the nuclear facility,
3. carry out an on-going comparison between the target and the actual status.
In contrast, the operator of a nuclear installation is also asked to establish a target for all tasks of relevance to safety. In conformance with the Nuclear Energy Ordinance (target) these tasks need to be written down in the management system of the nuclear facility. The management system transfers the regulatory and statutory target into a plant-internal and thus operational target. Accordingly, the management system is an organizational element of the nuclear facility and it belongs to the environment of the individuals that are working in the facility.
Pursuant to the regulatory guideline “Organization of Nuclear Facilities” the management system must map the nuclear facility as a system consisting of three elements: individuals, technology and organization. When considering this system account must be taken not only of its individual components and their interaction and interference, but also of external influences on the system.
Three supervisory approaches can be distinguished for the comparison between the statutory and regulatory requirements, the management system as well as its implementation
in the nuclear facility (see Figure 4):
1. Statutory Requirements (Target) Management System (Actual Target) In this approach the management system is checked, whether it fulfils the legal requirements. Hence, the management system plays a dual role. Compared with the statutory and regulatory requirements, it represents the target. In the nuclear facility it represents the actual state. The management system is therefore referred to as the target – actual state.
2. Management System (Actual Target) nuclear facility (Actual) In this approach the nuclear facility is checked whether it complies with the requirements of its management system. Thereby the management system is also a part of the nuclear facility, as it includes its own requirements.
3. Statutory Requirements (Target) Nuclear Facility (Actual) In this approach the real status of the nuclear facility is checked whether it (here the management system is not included) complies with the statutory and legal requirements.
A Systemic Approach to Oversee Human and Organizational Factors in Nuclear Facilities 687 Figure 4: Three Supervisory Approaches for Comparison between Target and Actual State
5. Oversight of Human and Organizational Factors The emphasis on organizational aspects in the term HOF is derived from the working method of regulatory authorities, which perform oversight of nuclear safety mainly by organizational measures (law, ordinance, guidelines).
As shown, oversight of HOF requires a systemic approach according to the understanding of the individual-environment interaction/interference schema and the inclusion of the management system as a central organisational factor according to the oversight method approaches 1 and 2 in section 4.
In this context regulatory oversight of HOF (compare Figure 2 and Figure 4) includes,
1. to ensure that the management system complies with the regulatory requirements (section 4, approach 1),
2. to ensure that the management system is implemented in the nuclear facility (section 4, approach 2),
3. to assess (for design) how the management system in combination with the attributes of the individual and the task on hand is interacting and interfering with the individual in his environment (see section 3 Figure 2, view in arrow direction),
4. to assess (for cause analyse) how the influences of the individual on the organisational factors (i.e., management system), on the task on hand and on the other environmental conditions can be traced back (see section 3, Figure 2, view in opposite arrow direction),
5. to assess the impact of the individual on the rest of the environment on the Claudia Humbel Haag and Bernd Linsenmaier individual.
Within the supervisory activities, point one and two represent the comparison between the target – actual state, point three to five serve to determine the target. This approach can be applied to any task of relevance to safety that is specified in the management system.
The purpose of the supervision is to ensure that the safety of the nuclear facility is not weakened but strengthened by the individual’s action. Statutory and regulatory requirements can be formulated more or less prescriptively. Depending on the degree of prescription, specific technical competence, experience as well as knowledge of adequate methodological approaches is needed from the regulatory personnel to oversee compliance with these requirements.
A systemic approach to safety inevitably requires interdisciplinary teamwork. Given the interference/interaction of the individual with his environment, various disciplines are brought together. A separation of the disciplines connecting the interferences and interactions necessarily entails a loss of knowledge regarding the safety relevant aspects and is therefore to be questioned.
The Fukushima accidents in 2011 have shown once more that a high degree of safety relevance must be attached to human and organizational factors in nuclear facilities. This knowledge requires a clear understanding of the human and organizational factors as well as an adequate methodical approach to their regulatory oversight.
This paper advocates that human and organizational factors in a nuclear facility can be understood with an individual–environment interference/interaction schema. It demonstrates the meaning of human factors, which consequences they have and how their formation and effects are influenced. In this context organizational factors have an important influence on human factors, which for their part are influenced by the individual afore. Such a consistent analysis leads to the understanding that HOF can be overseen and influenced appropriately by regulators only in a systemic way. Systemic approaches require inevitably interdisciplinary cooperation in daily work, because due to interactions, different professional disciplines are brought into play.
Tearing apart the interactions linking different disciplines goes along with a loss of knowledge regarding the safety relevant coherences and is hence to be questioned. The individual-environment interaction schema further indicates that human factors may not always be declared as root causes for unfavourable consequences of human behaviour.
Basically systemic conditions in purported human failures must be researched. The systemic perspective is also available to detect environmental and individual constellations that support the safety-orientated behaviour of individuals.
Regulatory authorities have primarily only organizational means at their disposal to check whether a nuclear facility discharges correctly its responsibility for safety. In this respect the management system – understood as all the conditions and processes relevant to plant safety and operation – has a decisive role to play as an organizational factor. From the regulatory perspective the management system can be used together with the legal requirements and the actual plant state for a triple and hence redundant and diversified target/actual- comparison.
References . National Reports to the Sixth Review Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety. 24 March to 4 April 2014, IAEA Headquarters Vienna, Austria, www-ns.iaea.org/conventions/nuclear-safety.asp A Systemic Approach to Oversee Human and Organizational Factors in Nuclear Facilities 689 . The Official Report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, Executive Summary. The National Diet of Japan, 2012, p. 16f.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the affiliations of the authors.
Claudia Humbel Haag, born in 1962, studied psychology in Fribourg/Switzerland and holds a degree in psychotherapy of the Swiss Association for the person centred approach. She joined the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI), Human and Organizational Factors Section in 1997. At the ENSI she works as a human and organizational factors' specialist. She is a member of the OECD/NEA working group on human and organisational factors (WGHOF).
Bernd Linsenmaier, Dr.-Ing., born in 1968, studied aerospace technology and ergonomics in Stuttgart and Munich/Germany. Journalistic practical training and freelancer at a German press agency. Joined NPP Neckarwestheim from 2003 to 2005 and Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI), Human and Organizational Factors Section from 2006 to 2010.
At NPP Neckarwestheim he worked as specialist for integrated incident investigation and HF analyses. At ENSI he chaired the incident processing team, was Swiss INES Officer and specialist for safety and accident management. Since 2010, he is a freelance consultant and