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TAKING CARE OF THE HUMAN FACTORS IN HEALTH AND SAFETY

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As technical systems have become more reliable the proportion of ...
As technical systems have become more reliable the proportion of

accidents attributed to human error has increased, but new guidance

aimed at highlighting human factors should help managers reduce

accidents caused by such mistakes.

The guidance, Reducing error and influencing behaviour, published

today by the Health and Safety Executive is aimed at managers with

health and safety responsibilities and health and safety

professionals in all industrial sectors.

Some estimates attribute up to 80% of accidents to the actions or

omissions of people. Human error is often cited in many major

accidents including Three Mile Island, Bhopal, Clapham Junction and

Zeebrugge.

Whilst such major accidents concentrate the mind, many minor

accidents in the workplace also involve a human contribution at many

levels in an organisation. A focus on human factors can not just

reduce the number of accidents but also cases of occupational

ill-health and can reap benefits in terms of a more efficient and

effective workforce.

David Eves, deputy director general of HSE said:

'The new guide has the key message that proper consideration of

'human factors' is a key ingredient of effective health and safety

management. In the past this is an area that may have seemed too

complex or difficult to do anything about, but the guidance provides

practical help on many of the important health and safety issues for

both managers and for safety representatives.'

The guidance encourages organisations to consider human factors in

four areas:

- During risk assessments

- Following an accident or incident

- When designing or procuring equipment

- In certain other aspects of health and safety management

eg fatigue, communications and culture

The publication also contains a series of case studies to show how

organisations have successfully tackled human factors problems.

Examples include how a UK refinery improved communication

arrangements for shift handovers and how a rail company took steps to

improve the alertness of safety critical staff.

Copies of Reducing error and influencing behaviour, HSG48,

ISBN 0 7176 2452 8, price£11.50, are available from HSE Books,

PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 6FS, tel: 01787-881165 or fax:

01787-313995.

Notes

1. Human factors covers the job, the individual, the organisation and

how they impact on health and safety related behaviour.

2. The revised guidance replaces 'Human factors in industrial safety'

(1989)

3. The new guidance will also be covered in a keynote address at an

Institute of Electrical Engineering conference in Bath 21-23 June

1999 on 'People in Control'. There will be a separate meeting on

the guidance for the offshore industries in Aberdeen later this

month.

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