Why is it crucial to understand Human Error?
It is essential to understand Human Error because it does not matter if in manufacturing, service, transportation or any other industry, at some point you will need a human. That being said, you need to understand human behavior if you want to minimize human error.
Some examples of the costs where the failure has been attributed to human error include:
- BP estimated that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill resulted in losses exceeding $40 billion.
- Airports have estimated that ramp accidents have cost over $10 billion.
- More than a decade ago, the Institute of Medicine issued a study on medical error identifying 44,000 ‐ 98,000, preventable deaths occur annually due to medical errors in U.S. hospitals. In the last ten years, this has been estimated to exceed 200,000 avoidable deaths in the previous few years.
- Preventable errors undercut quality, safety, IT security and customer service. These incidents decrease profits and drain resources at every level of an organization, creating waste and negating the effectiveness of training, processes, and procedures: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20140008715.pdf
However, do not worry; this does not happen to you, or does it? We can all agree that humans are complicated creatures. It is the most complex equipment in existence. Though human error is inevitable and natural, it is usually not expected, so we do not know how to address it. Human Error does not mean a mistake has to end in failure or loss of enormous amounts of money to businesses. Yes, it is known to be the primary cause of quality and production losses in many industries around the world, but many human performance problems can be prevented if only we understand ourselves.
Human failures start at the design stage; people make mistakes because they can; our designs allow it, and even though technology has taken care of almost everything nowadays, we still need to rely on humans if we want to be successful. Unfortunately, many organizations often ignore this fact, mainly because we (humans) do not understand human behavior. Consequently, many of them assume not much can be addressed.
From procedures, training, workplace environment, documentation to many variables that affect human behavior can be manipulated, reducing the likelihood of these occurrences. To work with these challenges is essential to understand human behavior and the psychology of error as well as understand exactly where the weaknesses of the system are so that they can be improved and fixed. Organizations count with many experts that can explain equipment, processes, procedures but, where are the experts that can explain human behavior? Here is where the good news begins. Human Error can be learned. Once you understand it, you can explain it, and if you can explain it, you can fix it.Therefore, we need “human engineers”!
Product loss, inventory on hold, scrap, and deviations, security breaches, deaths, are good reasons to start believing in the importance of addressing human error reduction as the most valuable link between institutions, quality, and profitability.
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