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Crowley’s Wise Fives: Human Performance


Author: Bob Crowley, Director of Business Development at Power Grid Engineering

What does peer check mean when you are standing in a relay technician’s shoes? To answer that, it is helpful to know the origins of performing peer checks. Most research suggests that a formal peer check program derived from the US Navy nuclear submarine fleet where each valve manipulation or switch operation carried life and death consequences. Deep in the ocean, a nuclear powered submarine relied on precision to operate safely, thus they created a system where every task was reviewed, or checked, by a peer. A second set of eyes on the task guaranteed less errors.

Fast forward to the 2020 power industry where peer checks assure the highest degree of accuracy in any critical relay protection and control activity. These peer checks serve as instant analysis of every relay circuit modification or test. In the same way as a submariner, relay technicians use peer checks to meet the precise expectations of our customers in substations and power plants. In every relay circuit modification or test, there is a point of no return, where the work must be verified to ensure quality power delivery. This point usually occurs when relay circuits are actuated and modified.

Here are five peer check tips to achieve longevity in the P&C commissioning world:

  1. Embrace Peer Checks – Asking for a peer check is a sign of wisdom and professionalism. Being asked to peer check is a great responsibility.
  2. Check in Close Proximity – Every peer check should be performed with both technicians in close proximity to assure the right wire is lifted or jumper is placed.
  3. Communication is Key – Use 3 Point Communication when checking to assure the task is clearly understood.
  4. Identify the “Point of No Return” – In any functional guideline or isolation plan, know the final jumping off point. Call an all stop and peer check to ensure the entire team feels ready to take the next critical step.
  5. Peer Checks as Training – Have less experienced technicians create functional and isolation guidelines for the lead technician or engineer. Peer check each and every line item to understand the technician’s thought process and identify training and coaching opportunities.

The highest quality of human performance must become the field technician’s way of life. Peer checks are an excellent tool to employ. What are your thoughts on HP tools? I would love to hear them!