A day in the life of a Human Factors Assessor at Sellafield Ltd.

Why Sellafield Ltd?

From cleaning-up the country’s highest nuclear risks and hazards to safeguarding nuclear fuel, materials and waste, our mission is nationally important. Sellafield, as a site, has been a nuclear facility in varying forms for nearly 80 years. A pioneer for the UK’s nuclear industry, it supported national defence, generated electricity for nearly half a century, and developed the ability to safely manage nuclear waste. From the production of plutonium for the country’s nuclear deterrent programme through to the development of nuclear power generation. Today Sellafield is faced with the challenge of cleaning-up the legacy of the site’s early operations, including some of the most hazardous nuclear facilities in Europe

Sellafield covers 6 square kilometres and is home to more than 200 nuclear facilities and the largest inventory of untreated nuclear waste in the world. Due to the long history of the site, our facilities are in various stages of the building lifecycle. This means that the challenges faced by each facility is unique and poses different operational challenges.

Sellafield poses a unique working environment allowing individuals to have a varied work scope ranging from designing new facilities to ensuring smooth transition into care and maintenance of facilities and demolition. A day working at Sellafield always brings about something new and varied.

As Sellafield moves towards a greater reliance on the human as a method of protection for our operations it is becoming ever more important that the end users have been adequately considered in order to manage the error potential within the work face. Human Factors assessment is used in support of the site licence conditions, HASWA and management of health and safety at work regulations.

What are the benefits of working for Sellafield Ltd?

  • Opportunity to work with industry-leading professionals and world leading experts
  • Salary subject to experience
  • Personal bonus scheme as well as annual SEBS bonus scheme
  • Flexibility based at Risley or West Cumbria
  • Blended approach to working
  • EAP
  • Cycle to Work Scheme
  • Discount scheme
  • Attractive pension
  • Relocation package to West Cumbria

What do the Human Factors profession do at Sellafield Ltd?

  • Apply psychological and physiological theory to understand and manage human error
  • Focus on the needs of the end user within a wider system to reduce error
  • Consider factors that affect Human Performance and use these to influence task and equipment design
  • Relevant in new designs, modifications, safety case, operations and end of life
  • We gain information through on plant assessment, trials and design review
  • Management of key customers and stakeholders to ensure the needs of the operators come first.

Why do we do it?

  • Help reduce the potential for error in the workplace
  • In support of the site licence conditions, HASWA and management of health and safety at work regulations.

What’s a typical day like?

08:10 – 09:45

Start the day in the office reviewing the design of a new control panel to replace an existing, aging system within one of our facilities against how the task will be completed and relevant standards, ring design engineer and discuss and agree changes to design, note changes within issues log for that project.

10:30 – 11:45

Head onto site to complete a walkdown in support of a management investigation. Discuss with operations how the task is usually completed. Feedback observations to the MI team and discuss where further investigation is required. Start to piece together where the task went wrong and what might improve reliability of operation in the future.

12:00 – 12:45

Meet a colleague for lunch in one of the many canteens and chat through the latest HF guidance changes discuss how we can improve the uptake of HF principles more effectively across site.

13:00 – 14:30

Head over to a different facility to support a meeting on POCO transition. Agree areas of hf assessment and discuss timescales for appropriate assessment

14:15 – 15:15

Head over to a new facility which is currently in Inactive Commissioning to attend an Alarm Review Group. This meeting will be attended by various disciplines including safety case, CE&I Engineers, Operations Manager, Pre Ops manager, Disciplined Ops and HF. Today’s meeting is reviewing changes to wording and descriptions of alarms which will aid the operator to identify and initiate the correct response, it’s important the descriptors are clear and consistent throughout.

15:15 – 16:20

Head back to the office to end the day with your colleagues. Grab a cuppa and discuss what everyone has on the for the rest of the week and if anyone needs any help/advice.

What do the people we work with say?

A Deputy Operations Manager says;

“The benefit that I have seen from doing the Human Factors trials and having the Human Factors Team support us in SMF is that it has helped us understand what aspects of the operational system being trailed required improvement. Be this the instructions and/or the training with these being done via a collaborative effort by ourselves and Human Factors – with them directly involved and fully in agreement with the changes to be made, thereby resulting in a positive outcome for the SMF Team/Human Factors and minimising rework.

Specifically, it has been really positive to witness, for myself and the Human Factors assessors, that off normal conditions during a trial have high salience to the operators and that they understand what they mean and what to do about them.  Moreover, where the Human Factors Assessors have spoken to the SMF operators afterwards, they have always been able to link this back to the faults and consequences in the safety case.  For HF (and me) this demonstrates that the equipment and environment is supporting the operators and that the training and instructions are providing them with the right knowledge, skills and prompts to be able to achieve the tasks and carry them out safely in the facility.”

Click here to visit our Search & Apply page featuring our Human Factors opportunities. 

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