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Human Factors in Process Plant Operation by David A. Strobhar

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4

System Demands/Automation

I don’t do much expert testimony, but I was involved in an arbitration case several years ago. A plant had built two new units and was asking their existing operators to absorb the additional work. The Union contended that this was unsafe. The Union presented their argument for half a day, which essentially came down to, “It’s bigger, and there’s more stuff now.” As I pointed out in my testimony, there could be two valves a mile apart, but if there was considerable time between when they would have to be turned, then one person might be able to handle it. Conversely, two valves 10 feet apart that had to be operated simultaneously would require two operators. It is not the size of the “machine” that determines workload, ...

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