Reconstructing human contributions to accidents:the new view on error and performance
Problem: How can human contributions to accidents be reconstructed? Investigators can easily take the position a of retrospective outsider, looking back on a sequence of events that seems to lead to an inevitable outcome, and pointing out where people went wrong. This does not explain much, however, and may not help prevent recurrence. Method and results: This paper examines how investigators can reconstruct the role that people contribute to accidents in light of what has recently become known as the new view of human error. The commitment of the new view is to move controversial human assessments and actions back into the flow of events of which they were part and which helped bring them forth, to see why assessments and actions made sense to people at the time. The second half of the paper addresses one way in which investigators can begin to reconstruct people's unfolding mindsets. Impact on industry: In an era where a large portion of accidents are attributed to human error, it is critical to understand why people did what they did, rather than judging them for not doing what we now know they should have done. This paper helps investigators avoid the traps of hindsight by presenting a method with which investigators can begin to see how people's actions and assessments actually made sense at the time.
Journal of Safety Research