- Edition: Second Edition
- Sidney Dekker, Griffith University, Australia
When faced with a human error problem, you may be tempted to ask 'Why didn't they watch out better? How could they not have noticed?'. You think you can solve your human error problem by telling people to be more careful, by reprimanding the miscreants, by issuing a new rule or procedure. These are all expressions of 'The Bad Apple Theory', where you believe your system is basically safe if it were not for those few unreliable people in it. This old view of human error is increasingly outdated and will lead you nowhere.
The new view, in contrast, understands that a human error problem is actually an organizational problem. Finding a 'human error' by any other name, or by any other human, is only the beginning of your journey, not a convenient conclusion. The new view recognizes that systems are inherent trade-offs between safety and other pressures (for example: production). People need to create safety through practice, at all levels of an organization.
Breaking new ground beyond its successful predecessor, The Field Guide to Understanding Human Error guides you through the traps and misconceptions of the old view. It explains how to avoid the hindsight bias, to zoom out from the people closest in time and place to the mishap, and resist the temptation of counterfactual reasoning and judgmental language. But it also helps you look forward. It suggests how to apply the new view in building your safety department, handling questions about accountability, and constructing meaningful countermeasures. It even helps you in getting your organization to adopt the new view and improve its learning from failure.
So if you are faced by a human error problem, abandon the fallacy of a quick fix. Read this book.
Contents: Acknowledgments; Preface; The Bad Apple Theory; The new view; The Hindsight Bias; Put data in context; 'They should have…'; Trade indignation for explanation; Sharp or blunt end?; You can't count errors; Cause is something you construct; What is your accident model?; Human factors data; Build a timeline; Leave a trace; What went wrong?; Look into the organization; Making recommendations; Abandon the Fallacy of a Quick Fix; What about people's own responsibility?; Making your safety department work; How to adopt the New View; Reminders for in the rubble; Index.
About the Author: Sidney Dekker is Professor and Director of the Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. Previously Professor at Lund University, Sweden, and Director of the Leonardo Da Vinci Center for Complexity and Systems Thinking there, he gained his Ph.D. in Cognitive Systems Engineering from The Ohio State University, USA. He has worked in New Zealand, the Netherlands and England, been Senior Fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Visiting Academic in the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University in Melbourne, and Professor of Community Health Science at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba in Canada. Sidney is author of several best-selling books on system failure, human error, ethics and governance. He has been flying the Boeing 737NG part-time as airline pilot for the past few years. The OSU Foundation in the United States awards a yearly Sidney Dekker Critical Thinking Award.
Reviews: 'Insightful, useful, refreshing. A must-read for anyone tired of the “old view” of human error'
Boyd Falconer, University of New South Wales, Australia
'It is accessible, practical, eminently readable and will be of great use to safety practitioners whatever their background.'
Health & Safety at Work, July 2007
'This past year I read your book The Field Guide to Understanding Human Error based on a recommendation of a colleague. I must admit it is one of the best book that I have read on accident prevention and safety. I have been practicing as a construction safety professional for 17 years and have struggled to accurately and completely articulate the concepts you so eloquently describe in your book. Although it draws many examples from an aviation safety standpoint, your book stands up brilliantly as a framework for understanding human error and accident prevention in any industry. Subsequently, I am using it as the text for my course "Safety in the Construction Industry" here at Columbia this fall.
The construction industry is so very stuck in the world of the "Old View." Convincing construction management professional that removing bad apples is not the answer is a tough sell. Your book is making my job quite a bit easier. Thank you.'
Ray Master, Columbia University, USA
' No matter if the reader is an upper level executive in an aerospace company, a member of an accident investigation team, a safety engineer, or a university student, Sid's Field Guide is equally as useful. This book presents important ideas for those who regulate human factors investigation and research, making it an essential read for the academician, the research analyst, and the government regulator'
International Journal of Applied Aviation Studies, Vol 7, No 2
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