We are all human and our behavior from the boardroom to the worksite can cause accidents. Our behaviors are influenced by our company culture, our jobs, and our individual characteristics. Research from across our industry tells us that human factors lie at the root of serious incidents.

In a major hazard industry like ours, these human factors have to be managed like any other business risk. If we can recognize when these factors arise in our activities, we can learn how to manage them and prevent harm to our people.

Definition of human factors

“Human factors refer to environmental, organizational and job factors, and human and individual characteristics which influence behavior at work in a way which can affect health and safety. A simple way to view human factors is to think about three aspects: the job, the individual and the organization and how they impact people’s health and safety-related behavior.”

(Health and Safety Executive, United Kingdom)

Human Factors and Safety

Human factors in safety are concerned with all those factors that influence people and their behaviour in safety-critical situations. The one common factor in all places of work is this: It involves human. Everyone who goes to work deserves to go home safe and sound to their family. Human factors help us to understand the following to make workplace a safe place to work:

Human Characteristics

Our abilities and limitations, how we process information, think and make decision based on our attitudes and behavior.

Job Characteristics

Tasks : what do our tasks and work involve? Do they involve repetitive motion and constant bending? What about heavy lifting? How often do we get a break from work?

Equipment : What equipment do we use at work? Are they designed to help us or hinder us? How can we make it easier for people to use? How do you measure “user-friendliness”?

Workplace : What are ergonomically designed workstations? Can we see the important dials and are we able to control the knobs without stretching? Is the workplace free from hazards that could make us trip and fall?

Organizational Characteristics

  • What kind of safety culture is there in our Workplace?
  • What sort of leaders do we have there?
  • How is teamwork supported to ensure optimal team performance?
  • Is there consideration for socio-technical systems design?

Why is Human Factors so important in Work Place?

  • Simply admonishing workers for not complying is not effective
  • Simply asking people to stop making mistakes does not work
  • Simply penalizing them for not turning up for work won’t do any good.
  • Simply telling them to behave is not the solution
  • Human factors are an important approach to dealing with Safety issues.

Human factors relates to the interaction of humans and technical systems. Human factors engineering dissects tasks and considers each component in relation to a number of factors specifically focused upon non-technical human interactions between people and at the interface between people working within systems.

Poor communication is a significant contributing factor in over half of all incidents of harm. Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation is a structured method for communicating critical information that requires immediate attention and action contributing to effective escalation and increased patient safety.

Situational awareness is one problem that can be understood and addressed through human factors.

The relationship between humans and technology is also influenced by the qualities of the relationships between humans. We can learn and study the impacts of various designs on the many relationships that constitute work in practice. Let’s think on the new perspective…

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