January 2004

Instrumentation/Safety

Effective alarm management

Follow these guidelines to reduce operator overload and mistakes

Brown, N., Real Time Engineering Ltd.

Numerous incident investigations over the years have revealed that floods of alarms from automatic systems distract human operators from dealing with the problem at hand, increase their stress levels and ultimately conceal vital information among a deluge of low-value, repeat or consequential warnings. The situation is now causing so much concern that the UK's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has identified alarms as one of its top 10 concerns. So how can operators address this issue? Boredom to panic. Modern highly automated systems are efficient, reliable and generally safe. Most of the time, the operator has little to do but monitor the overall situation and respond to the

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