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Human Factors Analysis and Classification System (HFACS) help in the identification of accident sources that are caused by humans. It is very instrumental in the investigation process and helps in training and prevention of accidents caused by humans. HFACS is based on the “Swiss Cheese” model of human error. This model considers four different levels of errors and latent failures (Shappel & Wiegmann, 2000). These include unsafe acts, preconditions for unsafe acts, unsafe supervision, and the organizational influences.
The Unsafe Acts are grouped into two categories: errors and violations. Errors refer to all the unintentional behaviors that may easily cause the occurrence of an accident. These include the skill-based errors, which occur as an operator executes his/her routine, decision errors, occurring as a result of the behaviors/plan of operators that fail to achieve the intended goal thus resulting in an unsafe situation. Perceptual error occurs as a result of the degradation of the sensory input of an operator (Shappel & Wiegmann, 2000). Decision is consequently based on a faulty perception that leads to unsafe situations.
Violations leading to unsafe acts are classified into routine and exceptional violations. Routine violations are operator’s habitual actions that are accommodated by the managing authority. Exceptional types of violations are not tolerated by the management nor are they typical of the operator. However, these violations and errors by personnel lead to unsafe acts.
The Preconditions for Unsafe Acts are divided into environmental factors, the conditions of the operators and the personnel factors. The environmental factors that serve as preconditions for unsafe acts include the physical environment and the technological environment. The physical environment is considered with respect to the operational setting such as the weather, altitude, in the case of the aircraft operation, and the ambient environment which includes the vibration and the heat in the operating environment. Shappel & Wiegmann (2000) cited that the technological environment entails all those aspects relating to automation, checklist layouts and equipment design. The conditions of operators may lead to unsafe acts. This may be as a result of adverse mental, physiological states or the physical limitation of the operator. Personnel factors such as crew resource management, personal readiness for the operation task may also be preconditions for an unsafe act.
Unsafe Supervision can lead to human cause of accidents. This results when there is inadequate supervision, guidance, training, and incentives for the staff. Unsafe Supervision can result from planned inappropriate operation such as crew pairing and risk management approaches (Shappel & Wiegmann, 2000). Further, the failure by the management to correct known problems can lead to human-caused accidents. Supervisory violations involving disregard to rules and regulations may also lead to accidents. Accidents may thus be caused by the failure of the management to enforce rules and regulations.
According to HFACS, organizational influences may lead to accidents. These may be the result of poor management and allocation of resources, poor or weak organizational cultures, structures and generally, the existence of weak organizational decisions and ethics that guide the operation of the organization. These may easily lead to human-caused accidents.
This article makes me a better supervisor especially by creating detailed insight into the role of a supervisor in the prevention of accidents caused by staff. It helps me to understand the importance of providing detailed and accurate training; guidance and motivation of all personnel to enable them effectively execute their duties with less errors and accidents (Shappel & Wiegmann, 2000). Besides, it makes me conceptualize the significance of early identification of potential problem areas in the operation structures of an organization so that corrective interventions are considered before chronic damages are caused. Further, the article has given me in-depth insight into the role of a supervisor in enforcing the rules and regulations governing the operations and conduct of the personnel. Careful consideration and practice of these principles will thus make me a better supervisor.
In conclusion, HFACS exposes areas of weaknesses that easily lead to human-caused accidents. Careful consideration is thus needed to prevent accidents resulting from the failures at the level of the unsafe acts, preconditions for unsafe acts, unsafe supervision and organizational influences.
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