In high-risk industries lives depend on procedures being written and used correctly.

School of Public Health researcher awarded funding to evaluate usability of procedure development and implementation software

February 19, 2015
In high-risk industries, lives depend on procedures being written and used correctly.

In high-risk industries, lives depend on procedures being written and used correctly.

It has been said that procedures are written by those who don’t like to write, for those who don’t like to read. However, in high-risk industries, lives depend on procedures being written and used correctly.

One of the tools currently being used in industries as varied as nuclear to space is ATR’s SmartProcedures, software that separates and checks content and formatting of safety procedures. S. Camille Peres, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, was recently awarded funding of $142,300 for two years by ATR to examine the usability of SmartProcedures™. This tool has the potential to not only expand the likeliness of workers accessing important procedural guidelines in the field, but to improve worker safety and performance.

Peres is an expert in the human factors implication of procedure design and applies the principles and techniques of cognitive psychology to the human-machine interface to improve the usability and effectiveness of the interface.

User testing will be conducted to identify any redesign necessary to ensure SmartProcedureseffectively facilitates employees who not only write the safety procedures, but those who actually perform the procedures in the field.

S. Camille Peres, Ph.D.

S. Camille Peres, Ph.D.

“It is not easy to write procedures in a manner that is accurate, clear and concise,” Peres said. “ATR wants to make sure that the interface for SmartProceduresTM does not make this process more difficult. Further, they are interested in exploring how other methods of delivering procedures to the operators, such as hand-held devices, may impact the operators’ comprehension and compliance with the steps of the procedure.”

Peres will research varying groups of employees by recording their responses and behaviors as they attempt to perform various tasks using the software.

This is part of an integrated program of research Peres is working on with the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center focused on developing a writer’s guide for procedure writers within high-risk industries such as chemical, space, and oil and gas.

— Rae Lynn Mitchell

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