Evolution of Workload Demands of the Control Room with Plant Technology
Authors: Jinchao Lin, Gerald Matthews, Jacquelyn Schreck, Kelly Dickerson, Niav Hughes
Abstract: The management and assessment of operator workload is a critical element of nuclear power plant (NPP) safety. Operators in the NPP main control room (MCR) often face workload that varies both quantitatively and qualitatively as immediate task demands change. Although workload is an intuitive construct, it is not easy to define and measure in practice. This paper reviews the conceptual and empirical challenges in workload assessment, discusses the evolution of workload in MCRs, and presents subjective workload data from recent U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)’s Human Performance Test Facility (HPTF) studies. Designs for NPP control rooms will increasingly utilize new technology, ranging from digitization of I&C through automation of operator functions to eventual use of AI. Workload assessment can contribute to determining whether the technology reduces cognitive demands on operators or has detrimental effects, such as increasing the vulnerability to human errors. We advocate for a multidimensional workload assessment approach based on Multiple Resource Theory and workload assessment should be combined with measurements of other constructs such as situation awareness, teamwork, and trust to identify vulnerabilities to error in NPPs.
Keywords: Nuclear power plant, workload, physiological assessment
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