1st Edition

Beyond Human Error Taxonomies and Safety Science

By Brendan Wallace, Alastair Ross Copyright 2006
    288 Pages
    by CRC Press

    288 Pages
    by CRC Press

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    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.

    Safety and Science. Reflective Practice and Safety Practice. Abstraction and Safety Science. Causality and Accidents. Heinrich. The Myth of the Root Cause. Models of Accident Causation. References. Safety and Taxonomies. Introduction. The Purpose of a Database and a Taxonomy. The Privileged Classifier. The Correspondence Theory of Classification. Taxonomies and Safety. Applications of Taxonomy Theory. Conclusion. References. Taxonomic Consensus. Reliability and Validity. The Logic of Taxonomic Consensus. Approaches to Probability. Quantifying Taxonomic Consensus. Simple Conditional Probability for Taxonomic Consensus. Signal Detection Theory and Reliability Testing. Conclusion. References. Taxonomic Output and Validity. Traditional Analyses and Possible Alternatives. Probabilistic Risk Assessment. Problems with the Null Hypothesis Test. Hot Science. Working with Taxonomic Data. Conclusion. References. Psychology and Human Factors. Taxonomies and Psychology. The History of Cognitivism. Information Processing. Situated Cognition. Embodied Cognition. Distributed Cognition. Discursive Psychology. Conclusion. References. Cybernetics and Systems Theory. Second-Order Cybernetics. Cybernetics, Systems Theory, and Human Behavior. Cybernetics: Conclusion. Normal Accidents. Conclusion. References. Challenger and Columbia. The Challenger Disaster. Columbia. Conclusion. References. Rules and Regulations. Rules, Physics, and Cognition. Laws. Psychology. Rules and Regulations. Technical Rationality. Self-Organization. The Social View. Why Has the Accident Rate Gone Down? Interpreting Accident Statistics. Empowerment. Conclusion. References. Conclusion. Science, Etc. References. Appendix 1 Carrying Out a Reliability Trial. Related Titles.


    Wallace, Brendan; Ross, Alastair