You are on page 1of 27

Human Factors

Indicators of Human Factors


Problems
Accidents where human error is a cause
Occupational health reports of mental or physical illhealth
High absenteeism or sickness rates
High staff turnover levels
Low level of compliance with h&s rules
Behaviour issues identified in risk assessments
Complaints from staff about working conditions or jobdesign

Common Human Failures in


Accidents
Job Factors:

Illogical design of equipment & instruments


Constant disturbances or interruptions
Missing or unclear instructions
Poorly maintained equipment
High workload
Noisy & unpleasant working conditions

Common Human Failures in


Accidents
Individual Factors:

Low skill & competence levels


Tired staff
Bored or disheartened staff
Individual medical problems

Common Human Failures in


Accidents
Organisation & Management Factors:

Poor work planning, leading to high work pressure


Lack of safety systems and barriers
Inadequate responses to previous incidents
Management based on one-way communication
Deficient co-ordination and responsibilities
Poor management of health & safety
Poor health & safety culture

Human Failures
Errors (not intended)
Slips
Lapses
Mistakes

Violations (deliberate)
Routine
Situational
Exceptional

Human
Failures

Slips
Actions-not-as-planned
Examples:
Performing an action too soon in a procedure
Carrying out an action with too much or too little
strength (e.g. over-torquing a bolt)
Switching the wrong switch
Moving switch up rather than down
Carrying out the wrong check on the right item

Lapses

Forgetting to carry out an action


Lose our place in a task
Can be due to interruptions or distractions
Example:
Forgetting to fill switchgear with oil?

Mistakes
Doing the wrong thing, believing it to be
right
Consist of:
Rule-based
Knowledge-based

Routine Violations
Breaking the rule has become a normal way of
working within the work group. This can be due to:

Desire to cut corners to save time & energy


Perception that rules are too restrictive
Belief that rules no longer apply
Lack of enforcement of the rule
New workers starting a job where routine violations
are the norm and not realising that this is not the
correct way of working

Situational Violations
Breaking rule is due to pressures from the
job such as:

being under time pressure


insufficient staff for the workload
right equipment not being available
extreme weather conditions

Exceptional Violations
Rarely happen and only then when
something has gone wrong
To solve a new problem you feel you need
to break a rule even though you are aware
that you will be taking a risk

Influences on behaviour at Work

Personality
Attitude
Motivation
Experience
Aptitude
Intelligence
Perception

Personality
The study of what makes each of us a
distinct person
Some characteristics are shared by all
human beings
Each person is different in some respects

Attitude
A persons point of view, or their way of
looking at something
Influences the way a person reacts in a
certain situation
Both good and bad attitudes are
contagious

Attitude Formation
Attitudes are primarily dependant on:

Early childhood
Schooling
Intelligence
Experiences
Progress (or the reverse)
Economics

Aptitude
A persons talent for doing something
Education should give knowledge and help
to form correct attitudes, while training and
practice are necessary for aptitude

Motivation
That which makes an individual act as they do their reason for doing something
A drive can be either:
Appetitive - towards something we want
Aversive - avoiding something unpleasant

An event that is followed with reward is likely to


recur (positive reinforcement)
An event that is followed with punishment is likely
to desist (negative reinforcement)

Experience
With increasing experience we expect more
competence and an increase in ability to cope
with situations
However, there is a tendency to cut corners, as
shown in the graph:

Accident
Frequency
Age
Experience

Time

Intelligence
There needs to be enough mental stimulation,
but not too much
A person with low intelligence may find even a
routine, mundane job very taxing
If a person of high intelligence is set a mundane
task, he will probably employ himself in finding
new and less arduous, but not necessarily safer,
ways of completing a task

Sensory Defects & Screening


Sensory defects increase with age and
failing health
We screen out things we are not interested
in or consider not worth listening to
We can go into auto-pilot mode, which
saves effort and allows us to concentrate on
other things, or think ahead. This is useful,
but causes many accidents

Perception of Danger
Factors involved in perception:
Signals from sensory receptors
Expected information from memory

Signals from sensory receptors and


memory can be misleading, particularly if
we are affected by stress, alcohol, drugs,
fatigue or just familiarity

Perceptual Set
Also called a mind set
When we have a problem, immediately we
perceive not only the problem, but the answer
Further evidence may become available
which sows our original perception to be
faulty, but we are so busy congratulating
ourselves on our intelligent solution that we
fail to see alternative causes & solutions

Perceptual Distortion
Perceptions get distorted
Things which are to our advantage always
tend to be more right than those which are
to our disadvantage

Errors in Perception Caused by


Physical Stressors
Consider effects of:

fatigue
overwork
overtime
stress from work and home

Shift work is a major factor


Our bodies operate best when we have a
regular routine

Perception and the Assessment


of Risk
In assessing a risk, there is safety in
numbers
One persons faulty perception of a risk could
be corrected by another persons clearer
perception
Perception also depends upon knowledge &
experience - a group will have more to
contribute