People are involved in all aspects of work, which is why school of thought recognises the importance that human factors can play in helping avoid accidents and ill-health at work.
Managing human failures is essential to prevent major accidents, occupational accidents and ill health, all of which can cost businesses money, reputation and potentially their continued existence.
Reducing error and influencing behaviour is the key document in understanding HSE’s approach to human factors. Human factors are defined as:
“Human factors refer to environmental, organisational and job factors, and human and individual characteristics, which influence behaviour at work in a way which can affect health and safety”
This definition includes three interrelated aspects that must be considered: the job, the individual and the organisation:
The job: including areas such as the nature of the task, workload, the working environment, the design of displays and controls, and the role of procedures. Tasks should be designed in accordance with ergonomic principles to take account of both human limitations and strengths. This includes matching the job to the physical and the mental strengths and limitations of people. Mental aspects would include perceptual, attentional and decision making requirements.
The individual: including his/her competence, skills, personality, attitude, and risk perception. Individual characteristics influence behaviour in complex ways. Some characteristics such as personality are fixed; others such as skills and attitudes may be changed or enhanced.
The organisation: including work patterns, the culture of the workplace, resources, communications, leadership and so on. Such factors are often overlooked during the design of jobs but have a significant influence on individual and group behaviour.
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 and accident 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. Human factors can, and should, be included within a good safety management system and so can be examined in a similar way to any other risk control system.
Successful businesses achieve high productivity and quality while ensuring health and safety.
Good technology combined with the best work systems can help to achieve these goals. The best work systems are based on having a skilled workforce, with well-designed jobs that are appropriate to individuals’ abilities.
For more informaiton on good work systems, read more about our management systems and how we can help your business achieve it’s goals.
HUMAN FACTORS & ACCIDENT PREVENTION: WHAT CAN YOU DO?
It is essential to understand what is happening and assess its impact on you and your team. It might be what’s happening in your environment or you may be distracted by something that’s happened to you
INCREASED AWARENESS CAN SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE ERROR
Our roles can be complex, which means many things can go wrong. Speaking up when we see something that’s not right can help avoid a situation that could lead to an incident.
INCREASED COMMUNICATION POSITIVELY IMPACTS HUMAN FACTORS
A team with a common purpose that communicates effectively and supports each other is more likely to perform well and operate safely
BEING PREPARED TO LISTEN AND CONTRIBUTE ARE TWO FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES FOR SUCCESSFUL TEAMWORK