Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Computer Sciences, *human – machine relations

Publication Details

H-Workload 2017: The first international symposium on human mental workload, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin, Ireland, June 28-30.


The console operators of certain petrochemical processes must maintain high levels of performance during process upsets or endanger personnel safety and the environment. Mismanagement of an upset can result in explosions, fires, and the release of hazardous chemicals to the environment. The change in workload from steady state to upset operation is significant, with alarms and control changes that are of an order of magnitude. This paper describes the state of console activity in process plants, particularly the increase with key upsets. Quantitative data on the nature of the console operator’s position, its workload during normal operation, and the requirements during upsets is shown. The goal is to spark discussion and potential investigation as to how to quantify the mental workload associated with the physical workload. Keywords: console operator workload, mental workload, distributed control