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Safer nuclear power with the operator in focus

Published: 26 March 2012

Nuclear power plant operators and management should have a better understanding of how control systems work and should be handled. In addition, nuclear power plant management should be clear about the importance of reporting malfunctions. On behalf of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority Håkan Alm, professor in Engineering Psychology at LTU, develops new methods to evaluate the interaction between operators, management, technology, organization and design of control rooms in nuclear power plants.

- Fukishima in Japan is an example that no one really understood the information from the control systems, he says. In Sweden, control room dashboards are now replaced which leads to big changes for the operators. Among other things, information is both collected from wall panels and smaller displays and control can also take place outside the control rooms. The systems are built from the operators' needs and the management and organization around safety issues encourages and supports those who report disturbances and incidents, which is important for the safety routines to be really effective.

Research in engineering psychology at Luleå University of Technology is all about interaction between people, technology and organization. The safety of individuals, industries, transport, etc., and creating a safety culture where management's behavior, work environment and user-friendly technology creates highly efficient säkerhetsstystem, are the focus of the research team that also develops advanced methods of risk analysis. Research on nuclear power plant safety is conducted in cooperation with Chalmers.