Define human error, and explain the HFACS method used to classify human error and how HFACS can be both reactive and proactive.
Human error can simply be described as an error made by a human. But it gets a little more complicated than that. People make mistakes. However, understanding why they make mistakes is vital. With that in mind, let’s go ahead and explore this very question. As stated earlier, human error is a mistake that occurs due to a person’s failing to properly execute something, as opposed to another outside influence by other factors of the design. Understanding human factors is especially important to systems where humans interact regularly with sophisticated machinery and in industries where human error induced accidents can have catastrophic consequences (Rodrigues & Cusick, 2012). HFACS methods provide a structure to review and analyze historical accident and safety data. Breaking down the human contribution to performance enables the analyst to identify the underlying factors that are associated with an unsafe act. The HFACS framework may also be useful as a tool for guiding future accident investigations in the field and for developing better accident databases, both of which would improve the overall quality and accessibility of human factors accident data (Rodrigues & Cusick, 2012). Common trends within an organization can be derived from comparisons of psychological origins of the unsafe acts or from the latent conditions that allowed these acts within the organization. Identifying those common trends supports the identification and prioritization of where intervention is needed within an organization. Due to HFACS, an organization can identify where hazards have arisen historically and implement procedures to prevent these hazards which will result in improved human performance and decreased accident and injury rates (Wiegmann & Shappell, 2014). HFACS can also be used proactively by analyzing historical events to...
References: Rodrigues, C. C., & Cusick, S. K., (2012). Commercial Aviation Safety. (5th Ed.) Chicago, IL:
The McGraw and Hill Companies INC., 157.
Wiegmann D. A. and Shappell S. A., (2014). A Human Error Approach to Aviation Accident
Analysis: The Human Factors Analysis and Classification System. Ashgate Press. Retrieved
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