Control Room Distractions: Recipe for a Catastrophic Disaster
by Abid Khan
Project Manager, INTECH Process Automation Inc.
The advancement in technology has enabled today’s control systems to become fault tolerant, include self-healing networks, carry sophisticated instrumentation and be able to respond to a system unrest. However, even the most modernized and efficient control
system is dependent on human operators for its smooth operation. A control system’s CPU, which only relies on the process data, can never match the decision making power of a human brain which is fed by multiple human senses. This makes the control room
operator a key factor for successful day to day operations. Individual humans have their own comfort zones, where they perform best. A breach in this comfort zone results in distractions leading to loss of concentration and affecting the
ability to take correct decision.
At an Oil & Gas facility, distracted control room operators may be the least noticed hazard but pose significant risk of a catastrophic disaster. Just like you don’t want to be on an airplane being landed by a distracted pilot, you won’t like to be on an FPSO with distracted operators during an offloading operation. In this paper, we’ll study some of the controllable
distractions with cost effective solutions to reduce their impacts.
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