Task Analysis Case Study: Error Analysis

Humansystems® was founded in 1982 to provide Human Factors & Ergonomics support to Canadian industry, government, and business.  HSI® consultants' expertise and experience cover most aspects of Human Factors and Ergonomics. The HSI® framework allows them to undertake a range of projects in Human Factors / Ergonomics from office layout to full-scale research promptly and cost effectively.

HIERARCHICAL TASK ANALYSIS WAS USED TO IDENTIFY THE POTENTIAL FOR ERROR 

In two projects for a nuclear power provider, Humansystems® chose TaskArchitect because of its’ integration of a graphical hierarchy of the tasks with user definable data collection forms.  While other mixes of tools provided part of this functionality, none of them brought it together in a package to support Hierarchical Task Analysis.

The Humansystems® projects identified the potential for errors in existing standby generator and chlorine injection systems and provided design advice to eliminate those errors in the replacement systems.  Additionally, Humansystems® identified areas where errors would be reduced through features of the new designs (i.e. improvements that were independent of Human Factors issues).  A combination of the review of technical material, informal interview and equipment reviews allowed them to build a comprehensive list of tasks.

TASKARCHITECT HELPED MAKE THE ANALYSIS EASIER TO PERFORM AND UNDERSTAND

TaskArchitect’s ability to take the work out of moving tasks around, through automatic renumbering and adjustment of the hierarchy made the application of Hierarchical Task Analysis within the project both easier and faster.  Features such as support for the structuring of plans made it easier to adopt a consistent style of analysis.  The display of task data in columns next to the task list brought a level of familiarity to TaskArchitect, it looked like the kind of information they would traditionally collect using Excel.  Simple export to Excel helped them to review the data with their subject matter experts at a distance, and new features such as the export of task hierarchy diagrams are anticipated to make bridging that distance even easier.

The clarity of the task hierarchy diagrams and their ease of production helped the analyst to review and interpret the data more easily than they could with more text based tools.