Beyond Human Error: Taxonomies and Safety Science

Brendan Wallace, Alastair Ross

March 16, 2006 by CRC Press
Reference - 288 Pages - 9 B/W Illustrations
ISBN 9780849327186 - CAT# 2718

USD$99.95

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Features

  • Provides step-by-step illustration of how to create and test a taxonomy of safety related data
  • Demonstrates how to carry out a “test” of a taxonomy as well as assessments of all basic statistics for carrying out such tests
  • Includes a brief and simple introduction to Bayesian statistics and demonstrates how they can be used in reliability studies and predictive modeling
  • Presents a critique of existing methodologies in safety management, specifically the idea of ‘root cause’ and ‘human error’
  • Explores a more cognitivist viewpoint, with demonstrations of up-to-date approaches, such as distributed cognition and situated cognition
  • Summary

    A ground-breaking new book, Beyond Human Error: Taxonomies and Safety Science deconstructs the conventional concept of “human error” and provides a whole new way of looking at accidents and how they might be prevented. Based on research carried out in the rail, nuclear, and defense industries, the authors show how, by concentrating solely on ”human error,” systems and sociological factors are frequently ignored in contemporary safety science. They also argue that the “information processing” view of human cognition, the foundation of the majority of safety science and ergonomics, is hopelessly simplistic and leads to ineffective or even misguided intervention strategies.

    Wallace and Ross explore how what they call the “technically rational” view of science can hamper the process of creating a taxonomy of error events, and the implications this has for the current orthodoxy. In laying out the limitations of the “technically rational” viewpoint, they clearly define their own alternative approach. They begin by demonstrating that the creation of reliable taxonomies is crucial and provide examples of how they created such taxonomies in the nuclear and rail industries. They go on to offer a critique of conventional “frequentist” statistics and provide coherent, easy to use alternatives. They conclude by re-analyzing infamous disasters such as theSpace Shuttle Challenger accident to demonstrate how the “standard” view of these events ignores social and distributed factors. The book concludes with a stimulating and provocative description of the implications of this new approach for safety science, and the social sciences as a whole.

    While providing a clear and intelligible introduction to the theory of human error and contemporary thinking in safety science, Wallace and Ross mount a challenge to the old orthodoxy and provide a practical alternative paradigm.

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