Skip to content

Working together to address Human Factors challenges

As part of our stakeholder engagement programme, we were delighted to welcome over 80 representatives from across industry to a virtual forum focusing on the specialist subject of ‘Human Factors’.

Nuclear installations are complex sociotechnical systems within which humans play essential roles in maintaining safe and reliable operations. Human Factors considers the role of the human within the system and the contribution they make to safety. This draws on knowledge about human capabilities (psychological and physiological) as well as the job, organisational and cultural factors which can impact human performance. In the context of nuclear safety, the science of Human Factors underpins the design, commissioning, operation, and decommissioning of all nuclear facilities.

Over time we have identified that licensees are finding it increasingly challenging to meet regulatory expectations due to difficulties in securing sufficient numbers of Human Factors specialists with the right knowledge, skills and experience to work in the nuclear sector. This can result in lengthy regulatory engagement and potential delays in permissioning of activities.

The virtual forum brought together Human Factors specialists and other stakeholders, including those from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the National Skills Academy Nuclear, and the Chartered Institute for Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF) to look at how collectively we could address some of the challenges affecting the specialism.

The forum included regulatory updates from our specialist inspectors, relationship building and inter-organisational learning on Human Factors issues. The event concluded with strong support for the formation of a cross-industry working group and the development of a Human Factors learning pathway for nuclear (in partnership with the CIEHF), to address the national shortage of Human Factors capability.

Margaret Ryan, ONR Deputy Professional Lead for Human Factors said: “Our aim is to support industry to address this strategic challenge together and already, we have been encouraged by the response.

“Our forecasts show that demand for Human Factors specialists is set to remain high, therefore establishing a collaborative approach to addressing capability challenges in industry is of critical importance to securing continued safe operations.”

Feedback following the event has been positive with attendees welcoming the opportunity to hear from different organisations about how they are tackling the challenges posed by the shortage of specialists across the sector.

To find out more about the different specialisms across ONR, please visit our Technical Specialism website page.