Accidents caused by human factors have been enormous making the term very popular in the Health and Safety setting. Human factor has been discovered to account for over 80% of accidents on the road and workplaces, making it a very important factor to consider when talking about accident prevention and mitigation.
Human factor has been defined as, “The environmental factors, organizational factors, job factors, and human/individual characteristics which influence behavior at work in a way which can affect health and safety.”
In this context, when talking about the accidents caused by human factor, we will be referring to the negative aspect of the human factor as it affects health and safety.
Understanding and knowing how to manage the human factor on site is an invaluable aspect of accident prevention and mitigation. Human factor in another way could be said to be the science of understanding human capabilities, limitations, behaviours and emotions thereby applying this knowledge to design and evaluate systems, workplaces and environment to ensure safety at work.
Generally, and in a more broad setting, human factors are made up of:
Environmental factors: E.g Work condition, Work station, Work Space, Toxic environment, etc.
Job Factors: E.g Work plan, Man power, Supervision, Work equipments, etc
Organisational factors: E.g Training, Policies, Procedures, Working hours, Welfare, Wage, etc.
Individual factor: E.g Inert nature, Believe, Culture, upbringing, Environment, Emotions, etc.
Image source: National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA)
Individual uniqueness and safety awareness
Every individual is unique in their way, making the issue of human factor as a major cause of accident not to be unilateral. The way one employee responds to the job environment, organizational decisions, and the job may be different from how the next employee responds to it; though they may be involved in the same task. A lot of things shape our reasoning, orientation, and actions. These things that shape our reasoning, action and orientations could be: Our upbringing, our inert culture, believes, the environment we grew up, people we interact with, our inert nature, etc.
How to preventing/mitigate the effect of accidents caused by Human factors
Accidents caused by human factors can be prevented or mitigated by managing the human factors. The main strategy for managing human factor is by targeting the causative factors inherent in the determination of the human factor. These factors which were highlighted earlier to include: The environmental factors, job factors, the organisational factors and the individual factor. All these factors must be tackled independently.
Organisational policies, procedures and arrangement which tend to affect human factor negatively should be reviewed. This review must be done in consultation with the employees, through the employee representatives. By doing so, the employees and the management will come to a common ground; Making policies and drawing out procedures that will be beneficial to both the employer and the employees. This will contribute immensely to the actualization of the health and safety objectives.
Job factors and environmental factors may also be reviewed if necessary. A full review of these systems will help prevent or mitigate accidents caused by human factors.
For the human/individual characteristics, training has been found out to yield the best outcome. The training should not be any kind of training, but experiential training. These training should inculcate emotional expressions through personal experience, life videos, images, and sober reflection. This training will tend to create a sense of awareness of the negative consequences of acts and believes that has over-time tend to be a habit. Though the impact of the training may not be immediate, but continuous reminder will create the much needed change. This change will help prevent or reduce accidents caused by human factors. It will also improve the safety culture of the organisation.
Accidents caused by human factor are not impossible to prevent/mitigate where necessary, it only needs an understanding of the problem and the right approach for correction.
Reduce more of preventable accident in your workplace by preventing/mitigating accidents caused by human factors. Adopt the strategy highlighted in this article, and make your work-site a safe heaven.