Human Factors in Urban Water System Safety
Many forms of risk management, including asset risk, are well embedded in urban water management. More recently however, human risk factors have emerged as a relatively understudied and poorly understood factor of influence. Human Factors Engineering (HFE) is a discipline concerned with understanding the interactions among people and other elements of a work system. It applies theory, principles and analytical methods to specific design issues underlying system operations. It looks specifically at human-induced risks to safety and overall system performance. All systems with a human interface, including hardware and software, can be evaluated.
Recognising the relatively fresh institutional arrangements for water in South East Queensland (SEQ), this project aimed to scope out a range of substantive research questions to improve the understanding of the role, importance and risk mitigation of human factors in urban water system safety. The intention of such research was to improve the integration of analysis of human judgement, decision making, perception and management along with the more traditional elements of risks associated with technical systems and quality control measures. The analysis was guided by the following questions:
- What are the human factor risk dimensions of the urban water system?
- What are the agreed high–priority research questions to be addressed which will contribute to the aim of optimising operator performance and minimising human error in the urban water system?
- What should be incorporated into a human factors research program to empirically address the priority research areas?
Key Publications and Outputs
- Technical Reports 46 and 80 relate to analysis in this project
- Conference papers listed on the Alliance website
- Proceedings of the Alliance Science Forums
Results from this research are relevant to individual water service providers, and indeed to service providers outside the water sector. More importantly, the research is also relevant to the "collective" of water service providers in SEQ, enabling the operation of a grid supplying a safe and resilient water system.
Professor Brian Head, The University of Queensland
Ph: +61-7-3346 7450