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Human Factors & Errors

• Key objectives of HF is to design systems that – people can use – increase efficiency and performance – minimise the risks of errors • Will define and consider the nature of error • Consider the implications for systems design

Definition of Human Error
• …is an inappropriate or undesirable human decision or behaviour that reduces or has the potential for reducing the
– effectiveness – safety – system performance

Human Error
• Tendency to view error at the operator level • Other people involved in the design and operation of the system can make errors • Should therefore consider the entire system • What might each approach reveal?

Human error
• 1st blame only the individual • 2nd identify other factors. Eg:– – – – badly designed or faulty equipment poor management practices inaccurate or incomplete procedures inadequate or inappropriate training

Human Error - Classification
• Various classification schemes exist • Discrete action classifications • Information processing classifications

Discrete Action Classifications
• One of the simplest (Swain & Guttman 1983) • Errors of omission - forget to do something • Errors of commission - doing the task incorrectly • Sequence errors - out of order • Timing errors - too slow - too fast - too late

Information Processing Classifications
• Rouse & Rouse (1983) propose one scheme • This scheme follows the information processing assumed to occur when humans operate and control systems such as:– an aircraft – a ship – a power plant

Information Processing Scheme
• • • • • • Operator observes the state of the system Formulates a hypothesis Chooses a goal Selects a procedure to achieve desired goal Executes the procedure Specific categories of errors can occur at each stage - eg incorrect interpretation of state of the system

Alternative Classification
• Rasmussen (1982) identifies 13 types of error 9 (See fig 20.1 in exercise book) • Errors depend on the type of behaviour involved
– skill based – rule based – knowledge-based

Error Classification
• Skill based
– controlled by sub-conscious behavior and stored patterns of behavior – errors usually errors of execution

• Rule based
– applies to familiar situations - stored rules are applied – errors involve recognising the salient features of the situation

Error Classification Schemes
• • • • No scheme particularly useful Partly because human error is complex Schemes do not capture that complexity Often the full facts are not available

Dealing with Human Error
• Human error is inevitable • Consequences and likelihood can be reduced by:– better recruitment & selection – training – better design of equipment procedures & work environment

Dealing with Human Error (cont)
• Three generic design approaches for dealing with human error:– Exclusion designs - impossible to make the error - Example? – Prevention designs - difficult but not impossible - Example? – Fail-safe designs - reduces the consequences but not the possibility - Example? • Designing to reduce error is often the most cost effective

Human Error and Accidents
• A key objective of HF is to reduce accidents and improve safety • Difficult to define ‘accident’
– – – – – without apparent reason mishap unexpected chance ‘act of God’

Human error and Accidents
• what % of errors is caused by human error? • Depends on several factors • Which perspective do we take ? The broad or the narrow? • May wish to consider other factors - was it an unsafe act or unsafe conditions - Eg The Singapore Airlines crash • Often it is the narrow perspective which is applied - blame the operator - Eg The pilot

Blame the Operator
• Shealey 91979) suggests several reasons for this – it is human nature to apportion blame at someone else – legal system is geared to apportioning blame – easier for management to blame the worker than other aspects – it is in the interests of the company to blame the worker rather than admit deficiencies in their procedures product or system • Studies of accidents (Shanders & Shaw 1988) reveal that in no case was human error the only factor • They proposed a model of contributing factors in accident causation - CFAC

Sanders & Shaws’ CFAC
• Factors are broad & encompass most factors found in other models • Their model includes and emphasises – management social and psychological factors • Human factors variables are recognised in the categories – physical environment – equipment design – work itself (refer to model diagram in exercise book)

Reducing Accidents -Conclusion
• • • • • • Apply HF principles to design Provide procedural checklists Provide training Provide appropriate & meaningful feedback Incentive programs Eliminate/reduce risk through design

Reference
• Human Factors in Engineering & Design • Saunders M & Mc Cormick E 7th Edition 1992 • Publisher McGraw - Hill