The paper “ Safety Reliability and Risk Management, Human Error as the Dominant Cause of Failure” is a spectacular example of coursework on management. The roles of human errors in causing accidents have been widely reviewed by industrial psychologists to determine possible measures to manage them. It is estimated that human error is a significant contributing factor to some 90 percent of major industrial accidents (Gordon 1996). This essay argues that although uncontrollable physical circumstances and technical errors contribute significantly to accident causation, human error is the dominant cause of failure. This article examines the types of Human Error within the industry and critically analyses how they have been involved in past industrial accidents.
Possible measures of reducing human error in the industry are also discussed. In the second part, a safety problem of a washing machine is analyzed using a Fishbone diagram to determine the root cause of the safety problem. Part 1Types of Human Errors in Industrial accidentsThe human error implies that an actor has performed an intended action, as a result, causing undesirable outcomes. The action depicts a deviation from expectations or a set of rules.
Put differently, human error describes an incorrect decision, improper lack of action or an action that is unacceptably performed (Shappel & Wiegmann 2000). There are various types of human errors, mostly discussed from the perspective of different proposed theories. Gordon (1996) cited industrial psychologists Rasmussen (1993) and Reason (1991) in discussing that attempts to understand and defeat human error can minimize its impacts. According to Rasmussen’ s (1992) the theory of human performance, human errors can be categorized into skill-based errors such as lapses and slips, rule-based errors and knowledge-based errors. Reason (1991) described human errors using Rasmussen’ s theory.
According to Reason (1991), preoccupation or distraction can cause skill-based errors leading to lapses or slips that cause an unintended action to occur. In knowledge-based or rule-based errors, failures in problem-solving may occur once an employee applies an incorrect rule. The types of errors based on Rasmussen’ s theory are intended to define the errors in high-risk industries. Though they appear to provide an ideal model that can be used in describing typical industrial accidents, this essay argues that the error types described by Rasmussen (1993) are somewhat complex and can be difficult to apply in industrial situations without extensive training (Gordon 1996).
Therefore, a simpler approach suggests by Gordon (1996) is adopted. The researcher proposed that human errors can be categorized into six types, namely action errors, retrieval errors, checking errors, diagnostic errors, transmission errors, and decision errors. Decision errors occur in situations where although all the preventive measures are considered, wrong decisions are made (Gordon 1996). An example of a major industrial accident caused by a decision error was the Flixborough chemical plant disaster that happened in 1974 in the UK, resulting in the death of 28 workers.
Studies established that in a bid to cut costs and use of electricity given the 1974 fuel crisis, Nypro UK, which owned the plant, curtailed the regular stirring of tanks to prevent the build-up of water condensation in tanks resulting to incidences where water flashed to steam because of overpressure. As a result, there was an explosion causing widespread property damage within a 6-mile radius. Design errors was also a direct cause, as a failure of the badly designed 20-inch bypass pipe between reactor 4 and 6 caused a massive release of inflammable vapor that ignited causing vapor explosion (Whittingham 2004).