Human Error and Failure Analysis

Date: 2022-02-12 · Word Count: 177 · Reading Time: 1 minute

Preventing errors is a critical part of leadership and management. This is true regardless of your industry.

Key points for error prevention:

  1. Positive attitude to errors:
  2. Blame free culture
  3. The psychology of human error
  4. Look for an error chain, there are usually multiple factors leading to errors
  5. Active failures (human, usually ~10-20%) vs latent failures (system, 80-90%)
  6. Education and knowledge management (educate, don’t train)
  7. Effective system safeguards
  8. A focus on error detection and prevention (“Preventive and Corrective Action” model)
  9. Simplification, be anal about it.
  10. Error proofing and user centered design

Also, when doing analysis, it’s important to keep in mind the traps that can be fallen into when trying to understand the error chain:

  1. Counterfactual reasoning: talking about things that did not occur, the use of “would likely” and similar language
  2. Normative language: using language that implies that the people chose to do the wrong thing.
  3. Mechanistic reasoning: looking for a malfunctioning component in a system, rather than looking at the system overall.
  4. Cherry picking data: picking only data which agrees with an assumed conclusion.