In other words, Human Factors is concerned with what people are being asked to do (the task and its characteristics), who is doing it (the individual and their competence) and where they are working (the organisation and its attributes), all of which are influenced by the wider societal concern, both local and national.
Human Factors interventions will not be effective if they consider these aspects in isolation. The scope of what we mean by Human Factors includes organisational systems and is considerably broader than traditional views of Human Factors /ergonomics.
Though most frequently used to identify the multiple factors that may have led to accidents or incidents, Human Factors can also be used to identify opportunities for performance and productivity gains.
“Non-Technical Skills are the cognitive, social and personal resource skills that complement technical skills and contribute to safe and efficient task performance.”
The importance of non-technical skills is widely recognised and they feature within the Competency Frameworks of many organisations, including the National Health Service (NHS); oil, gas, and aviation Industries. Governing organisations, such as the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), advocate the inclusion of Non-technical skills in Competency Management.
For example, the RSSB defined the NTS skills for train drivers in the UK under 7 categories which encompassed 26 individual skills
|NTS Category||NTS Skills|
|4||Decision making and action||
|5||Cooperation and working with others||
The ultimate risk to Personal Safety is the compromised safe behaviour of the individual due to the individual’s physical or mental state.
Gary Higbee identifies 4 key risk states:
Higbee’s research showed that one or more of these states where present in over 95% of accidents and incidents
These risk states then impact on performance and lead to people making critical errors in the following ways:
|Visual||Eyes not on task|
|Concentration||Mind not on task|
|Kinaesthetic||Losing Balance, traction, grip|
|Physical Location Situational Awareness / “Line of Fire”||“Line of fire” is a military term that describes the path of a discharged missile or firearm. It’s the path an object will travel. In the rail workplace there are many objects and hazards that have potential to create line of fire exposure.|
Impaired performance then results in errors and unexpected events such as near misses and incidents.
Complacency is worth separate consideration as it represents a particular risk to Personal Safety. Larry Wilson in his book quotes the following personal example:
“Years back we were over at the mother-in-law’s for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s the huge turkey spread, and while we’re eating, it starts snowing. We start assessing whether we should drive home or stay the night – we look out the window at how much it’s snowing and judge it isn’t really that bad…. We check the Internet. Welook at the weather reports. We even turn on the radio to hear about road closures. We are basically making all kinds of assessments about the physical risk.
None of us – including me – until we’re at about the third hour of the drive home, and I am so tired I can barely keep my eyes open – thought, “What is the risk of driving 3 hours after a big turkey dinner and falling asleep at the wheel?” We didn’t think about that at all.And yet people falling asleep at the wheel represents approximately 25% of the fatal car crashes in Canada and the United States.
But there’s a natural tendency for people to look solely at the physical environment and physical hazards when they’re doing a risk assessment and totally neglect the essential question of “What is my state of mind?” or “How complacent have I become with this activity?” These are rarely questions that people ask during assessments. And yet complacency is a major and minor contributing factorwith almost every accidental acute injury”
The hallmark of a genuine organisational commitment to establishing and maintaining a culture of safety is when employees take personal ownership for the safe behaviour of themselves, their colleagues and customers.
Many employees make the dangerous assumption that accidents are something that happen to other people, and therefore that workplace safety is not their personal priority. They do not take personal ownership for safe behaviour.
The goal for any industry for which safety is critical is to reach ‘habit-strength’ for safe behaviour—defined as everyone demonstrating safe behaviour all of the time. This is not a ‘blue-sky’ goal – teams repeatedly demonstrate that not only can they reach this goal but also understand the importance of admitting when they haven’t.
Good examples are: Canadian Pacific Railway which reported a 46% decrease in human-caused incidents following the implementation of their Safety Programme; in military aviation, reports suggest that the occurrence of accidents has reduced by 81% following their introduction of Personal Safety and Human Factors training.
Telling people not to make errors or trying to change human nature to eradicate error is not an effective approach to managing risk and Personal Safety.
Individuals must be given easily accessible and practical approaches to managing and mitigating risk in their personal behaviour.
This necessitates a systematic approach to addressing the key areas of all Personal Safety:
From this approach we arrive at a powerful and meaningful set of tools and techniques unique to the individuals in their given role to maximise their Personal Safety.
The Workshops gets your people involved in looking at risk assessment using a framework based on two proven approaches:
They will learn how to:
and in so doing:
Using this approach your people will learn how to assess risk from two perspectives: from the outside-in and from the inside-out.
This will create a fundamental cognitive shift in how your people assess future risk. And that is so much more powerful than simply being able to rewrite safety procedures.
The Workshop will complement delegates’ existing risk strategies with tools and techniques to manage and mitigate their self-risk.
The areas we will cover are: