Empirical studies of candidate leading indicators of safety in nuclear power plant. An expanded view of human factors research

Mary L. Nichols, Alfred A. Marcus

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The role of management and organization factors in safety performance in nuclear power plants is examined. The research to be reported has been conducted over a two-year period, funded by the Research Division, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The research is guided by a framework which proposes that certain management and organizational characteristics influence intermediate outcomes, which include the level of operating efficiency of the plant, the quality of its components, the compliance of its systems and people to preestablished standards, and the plant's capacity for recognizing potential problems, and finding and implementing solutions to them. Relationships between these intermediate outcomes and the post-hoc measures of safety currently being used by the NRC are examined. Candidate variables among the intermediate outcomes which might become 'leading' indicators of safety are discussed. In addition, the research seeks to identify management and organization factors which provide antecedent conditions leading to the intermediate outcomes and ultimately to safe operations. Empirical studies of the effects of problem solving capacity, organizational learning, financial resources, and the relationship between the utility-level strategy and the plant are being conducted and the results will be reported. The paper calls for an expanded view of human factors research in understanding the causes of complex human and system behavior which ultimately leads toward a goal of safe operations in nuclear power plants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)876-880
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Human Factors Society
StatePublished - 1990
EventProceedings of the Human Factors Society 34th Annual Meeting - Orlando '90 - Orlando, FL, USA
Duration: Oct 8 1990Oct 12 1990


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