Human Error

Incidents and accidents are often attributed to human failures; this view is no longer acceptable to society.

Different reasons contribute to unintentional failures (physical and mental errors: ‘not doing what you meant to do’) and intentional failures or violations

Avoid human failures by consideration of behaviour and performance:

  • work systems design to prevent slips and lapses
  • designing jobs to avoid the need for tasks which involve very complex decisions, diagnoses or calculations (e.g. providing procedures)
  • provide clear, concise, available, up-to-date and accepted by users job aids (procedures, instructions)
  • considering potential human errors in risk assessments


  • HSE (1999). Reducing error and influencing human behaviour. Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Sheffield.
  • Reason, J. (1990). Human error. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.