Proceedings of the

The 33rd European Safety and Reliability Conference (ESREL 2023)
3 – 8 September 2023, Southampton, UK

Analysing ``Human-in-the-Loop'' for Advances in Process Safety: A Design of Experiment in a Simulated Process Control Room

Chidera Winifred Amazu1,a, Houda Briwa2,e, Micaela Demichela1,b, Davide Fissore1,c, Gabriele Baldissone1,d and Maria Chiara Leva2,f

1SAfeR - Department of Applied Sciences and Technology, Politecnico di Torino, Italy.

2Technological University Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.


Control room operators are crucial to ensuring safety in safety-critical environments, as major risk process plants, especially when addressing critical process deviations that could lead to process disruptions or accidents. These operators face increased cognitive loads being more involved in tasks that exert their cognition with less manual or physical engagement. Therefore, process safety analysis should integrate key dynamic elements, including the operators' cognitive states, to allow better predictions. We aim to investigate the impact of the human system interfaces, in this case, two conditions of alarm design (prioritized and non-prioritized) and intervention procedures (paper vs. computer-based), on the operators' cognition (e.g., situational awareness, mental workload) given a set of scenarios and how these impact operators' performance and process safety. We also assess how other performanceshaping factors, such as task complexity, communication, and more during the process operations (alarm handling and intervention), contribute to managing safety. Therefore, we present a design of an experiment and a case study of a simulated formaldehyde production plant with which we plan to investigate the operators' and systems' behavior during abnormal process operation. Results are yet to be obtained from this study. Subsequent work on modeling process safety for early warnings and optimizations can benefit from this experimental design and the data to be collected and, even so, from including the data on operators' cognition during analysis.

Keywords: control rooms, Process safety, Design of experiment, Human-in-the-loop, Cognitive science.

Download PDF