Skip to content

ONR’s Human Factors specialism wins chartered institute award

The Office for Nuclear Regulation’s (ONR) Human Factors specialism collected the prestigious President's Award at this year’s Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF) conference.

This recognised the team’s outstanding contribution to transforming the landscape of human factors across the UK nuclear sector through driving forward continuous improvements, influencing good practice and strengthening expertise in the field.

What are human factors and why are they important?

Human factors are the environmental, organisational and job elements, along with human and individual characteristics, that influence performance at work.

These help ONR understand how people working at nuclear sites interact with each other, the processes they follow, and how this impacts day-to-day nuclear operations.

The Human Factors specialism sits alongside ONR’s other technical disciplines to inform its regulation of the UK nuclear sector and support dutyholders in reducing risk and enhancing performance.

The members of ONR’s Human Factors specialism have more than 200 years of combined experience between them and have played a vital role in increasing the profile of human factors within ONR and across the industry.

The team collected their award on 23 April at a ceremony as part of CIEHF’s 75th anniversary conference. Previous winners have included organisations from across the spectrum of human factors including rail, defence, air traffic control, healthcare and aviation.

The award recognises the team’s successful application of skills across ONR’s existing areas of regulation, their consideration of the challenges and opportunities presented by the nuclear industry’s evolving technological landscape, and how they have positively influenced safety and decision-making at senior levels.

Also highlighted was ONR’s collaborative work with industry and their programme of research and technical guidance updates. 

A UK-wide shortage of suitably qualified and experienced human factors specialists across the nuclear industry and other high-hazard sectors has impacted recruitment for both ONR and its licensees.

The award highlights the ONR Human Factors team’s efforts to address this challenge through their Capability Enhancement Plan, which includes:

  • Strengthening the existing human factors capability within ONR;
  • Raising awareness of human factors across ONR’s wider inspectorate community;
  • Supporting the development of new routes into ONR for graduates and early career professionals, incorporating coaching and mentoring;
  • Working with industry and CIEHF to address the national capability shortage via the development of a Human Factors Learning Pathway for nuclear; and
  • Embracing innovation and planning for the future of human factors within the nuclear industry.

Mike Richardson, ONR’s Professional Lead for Human and Organisational Capability, said: “This well-deserved award recognises the growth and agility in our internal human factors capability and how the team have applied their skills and experience to leverage improvements across the UK nuclear landscape and beyond.

“A huge congratulations to the whole team for their efforts in ensuring human factors are given due emphasis in our regulation and throughout the wider sector to help secure safe nuclear operations.”