Safety implications of cultural and cognitive issues in nuclear power plant operation

Appl Ergon. 2006 Mar;37(2):211-23. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2005.03.004. Epub 2005 Jul 1.


This research project was designed to investigate cultural and cognitive issues related to the work of nuclear power plant operators during their time on the job in the control room and during simulator training (emergency situations), in order to show how these issues impact on plant safety. The modeling of the operators work deals with the use of operational procedures, the constant changes in the focus of attention and the dynamics of the conflicting activities. The paper focuses on the relationships between the courses of action of the different operators and the constraints imposed by their working environment. It shows that the safety implications of the control room operators' cognitive and cultural issues go far beyond the formal organizational constructs usually implied. Our findings indicate that the competence required for the operators are concerned with developing the possibility of constructing situation awareness, managing conflicts, gaps and time problems created by ongoing task procedures, and dealing with distractions, developing skills for collaborative work.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brazil
  • Cognition*
  • Communication
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Observation
  • Organizational Culture*
  • Power Plants / organization & administration*
  • Professional Competence
  • Safety*