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Course Description

The design of control systems in process and manufacturing plants directly impacts the likelihood of human errors by operators. Human error is much more likely than equipment failure. Consequently, the development of an optimized interface between the processes and equipment being controlled and the operators is vital for ensuring safety and operability to avoid adverse impacts on people, the process, or the company. The are various important aspects of the control system including equipment design, control room design, the human / computer interface, operating procedures and the documentation used, and operator competence. These topics are addressed in the course.

People control processes by interacting with process equipment. Process equipment includes displays, alarms, controls, computers, manual equipment and personal protective equipment. Human factors issues for process equipment relate to how people interact with and use equipment and the characteristics of the equipment that may increase the likelihood of human failures when it is used by people. This entails studying the match between the attributes of people and those of equipment that are involved in the interactions.

Control rooms must be organized so that control room personnel are provided with an appropriate working environment. The likelihood of human errors in the control room and the likelihood that control room personnel will be exposed to ergonomic hazards can be reduced by effective human factors control room design.

The human / computer interface (HCI) deals with how people interact with computer systems with the objective of ensuring computer system designs are functional, easily operable, efficient, and safe. Many plants today utilize computer systems such as DCS's, SCADA systems and PLC's to control plant processes. Human failures in interacting with control systems can result in loss of control and serious incidents.

Various human factors issues are important in developing procedures. Also, a variety of documentation is used including manuals, guidelines, checklists, data sheets, logs, records, work orders, etc. Documentation design can have a major impacts on process safety and operability. Procedures that are not followed, guidelines that are not used, diagrams that are misleading, and records that are not completed properly can all increase the likelihood of accidents.

The ability of personnel to perform tasks according to expectations, or the competence of personnel, is crucial to every organization because of the role it plays in ensuring tasks are carried out satisfactorily and safely. Often assumptions of competence are made based on the adequacy of experience or training, possession of qualifications, or the availability of a procedure. However, such assumptions may be incorrect and should not be made. Competence should be managed, otherwise poor performance and accidents may result.

The course identifies and describes tools available to address these important issues and provides experience in their use.


Provide instruction on how to design and improve the interface between operators and control systems in process and manufacturing plants to improve operability and safety.

Target Audience

Personnel with responsibility for safe and reliable plant operations.


Knowledge of plant operations.

Course Contents

  • Human Factors in Control System Design and Operation
  • Aspects of Control Systems
  • Equipment Design and Use
  • Control Center Design and Operation
  • Human / Computer Interface
  • Operating Procedures Development and Use
  • Documentation Design and Use
  • Competence Management

Duration / CEUs / ABIH

  • Two days
  • 1.4 CEUs awarded
  • 2.34 CM Points, ABIH Approval #: 10-150


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