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The Field Guide to Understanding Human Error [Paperback]

Sidney Dekker
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 30 2006 0754648265 978-0754648260 2nd edition
When faced with a human error problem, you may be tempted to ask 'Why didn't they watch out better? How could they not have noticed?'. You think you can solve your human error problem by telling people to be more careful, by reprimanding the miscreants, by issuing a new rule or procedure. These are all expressions of 'The Bad Apple Theory', where you believe your system is basically safe if it were not for those few unreliable people in it. This old view of human error is increasingly outdated and will lead you nowhere.The new view, in contrast, understands that a human error problem is actually an organizational problem. Finding a 'human error' by any other name, or by any other human, is only the beginning of your journey, not a convenient conclusion. The new view recognizes that systems are inherent trade-offs between safety and other pressures (for example: production). People need to create safety through practice, at all levels of an organization. Breaking new ground beyond its successful predecessor, The Field Guide to Understanding Human Error guides you through the traps and misconceptions of the old view. It explains how to avoid the hindsight bias, to zoom out from the people closest in time and place to the mishap, and resist the temptation of counterfactual reasoning and judgmental language. But it also helps you look forward. It suggests how to apply the new view in building your safety department, handling questions about accountability, and constructing meaningful countermeasures. It even helps you in getting your organization to adopt the new view and improve its learning from failure.So if you are faced by a human error problem, abandon the fallacy of a quick fix. Read this book.

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Insightful, useful, refreshing. A must-read for anyone tired of the "old view" of human error'Boyd Falconer, University of New South Wales, Australia'It is accessible, practical, eminently readable and will be of great use to safety practitioners whatever their background.'Health & Safety at Work, July 2007'This past year I read your book The Field Guide to Understanding Human Error based on a recommendation of a colleague. I must admit it is one of the best book that I have read on accident prevention and safety. I have been practicing as a construction safety professional for 17 years and have struggled to accurately and completely articulate the concepts you so eloquently describe in your book. Although it draws many examples from an aviation safety standpoint, your book stands up brilliantly as a framework for understanding human error and accident prevention in any industry. Subsequently, I am using it as the text for my course "Safety in the Construction Industry" here at Columbia this fall.The construction industry is so very stuck in the world of the "Old View." Convincing construction management professional that removing bad apples is not the answer is a tough sell. Your book is making my job quite a bit easier. Thank you.'Ray Master, Columbia University, USA' No matter if the reader is an upper level executive in an aerospace company, a member of an accident investigation team, a safety engineer, or a university student, Sid's Field Guide is equally as useful. This book presents important ideas for those who regulate human factors investigation and research, making it an essential read for the academician, the research analyst, and the government regulator'International Journal of Applied Aviation Studies, Vol 7, No 2

About the Author

Sidney Dekker is Professor and Director of the Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. Previously Professor at Lund University, Sweden, and Director of the Leonardo Da Vinci Center for Complexity and Systems Thinking there, he gained his Ph.D. in Cognitive Systems Engineering from The Ohio State University, USA. He has worked in New Zealand, the Netherlands and England, been Senior Fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Visiting Academic in the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University in Melbourne, and Professor of Community Health Science at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba in Canada. Sidney is author of several best-selling books on system failure, human error, ethics and governance. He has been flying the Boeing 737NG part-time as airline pilot for the past few years. The OSU Foundation in the United States awards a yearly Sidney Dekker Critical Thinking Award.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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4.0 out of 5 stars Best summary March 31 2012
By Richard
This is the first and best of Dekker's many books written along similar lines. Clear, concise, and helpful to people in many different fields of practice
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Dr. Dekker has taken a logical approach to understanding human error in his latest revision to his original text of 2002. If you are an accident investigator, cause analyst, or safety process engineer, you will be amazed at this book. Dr. Dekker reminds us to at all times to try and see the unfolding world from the point of view of people inside the situation--not from the outside or from hindsight.

If you want real and effective corrective actions to events at your facilities, this is a must read. Also see "Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents" by James Reason / Ashgate, 1997 and Revs.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  21 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best guide to how to investigate error May 31 2008
By Mr. Andrew Evans - Published on
Essential reading for any safety investigator. An eye-opening way to transform your investigations by moving from the old-view to the new-view. I've used this book as a 'course book' for a seminar of 25 safety professionals to great effect. Plus there is a good guide to the role of a safety department too.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to the basics Nov. 22 2007
By Jose Sanchez Alarcos - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
We all are extremely good to forecast the past. When this simple principle is applied to human error, it is very easy blaming the human operator.

Dekker tries to put himself in the shoes of that human operator showing why an analysis that does not try to understand an event from that position is useless.

There is a very hard criticism to different kind of positions taken by people that do not make that effort.

If we try to make something as a "winzip on a summary" of the book, I think we could reach these conclusions:

When we have to analyze an event, it should be useful starting with this hipothesis: "People are not usually dumb, people are not usually crazy and people have not usually chosen the day of a big accident to make self-killing." This starting point could be enough to avoid many of the practices fairly critiziced by Dekker.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top 5 Human Factors Recommended Reading Feb. 12 2009
By Clark - Published on
Mr Dekker's books should be required reading for all accountable executives in high reliability organizations. Over 30 years as a continuous system improvement advocate, I have recently developed a "Recommended Reading" list for those who are new to the field of human factors and system safety. Dekker now as 3 books on that list, with the recent release of "Just Culture."

We live in the information age now; the only way to improve our lot is to share information for the purpose of continual learning. Dekker's approach points the way.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction to systems thinking Dec 5 2013
By M. Rayo - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is the perfect introduction to systems thinking when trying to understand accidents, improve safety, and make systems more resilient. The examples are great, and the author's perspective comes through loud and clear. He puts in clear relief the "old way" and "new way" of thinking about error, lays out his case for transitioning to the new way, and does it all clearly and concisely. Great read! I'll be buying extra copies to lend to colleagues.
3.0 out of 5 stars Good use of airline and other examples in each chapter July 13 2014
By lucky d - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well written text that can be applied across any industry with safety related work. Good use of airline and other examples in each chapter.
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