In order to address human factors in workplace safety settings, peoples’ capabilities and limitations must first be understood. The modern working environment is very different to the settings that humans have evolved to deal with. The following human characteristics that can lead to difficulties interacting with the working environment.
Attention -The modern workplace can ‘overload’ human attention with enormous amounts of information, far in excess of that encountered in the natural world. The way in which we learn information can help reduce demands on our attention, but can sometimes create further problems
Perception -In order to interact safely with the world, we must correctly perceive it and the dangers it holds. Work environments often challenge human perception systems and information can be misinterpreted.
Memory -Our capacity for remembering things and the methods we impose upon ourselves to access information often put undue pressure on us. Increasing knowledge about a subject or process allows us to retain more information relating to it.
Logical reasoning -Failures in reasoning and decision making can have severe implications for complex systems such as chemical plants, and for tasks like maintenance and planning.
Environmental, organisational and job factors, in brief, influence the behaviour at work in a way which can affect health and safety. A simple way to view human factors is to think about three aspects: the individual, the job and the organisation and their impact on people’s health and safety-related behaviour.
The typical examples of immediate causes and contributing factors for human failures are given below:
- low skill and competence level
- tired staff
- bored or disheartened staff
- individual medical problems
- illogical design of equipment and instruments
- constant disturbances and interruptions
- missing or unclear instructions
- poorly maintained equipment
- high workload
- noisy and unpleasant working conditions
Organisation and management factors
- poor work planning, leading to high work pressure
- poor SOPs
- lack of safety systems and barriers
- inadequate responses to previous incident
- management based on one-way communications
- deficient co-ordination and responsibilities
- poor management of health and safety
- poor health and safety culture.
It is concluded that the performance of human is being strongly influenced by organizational, regulatory, cultural and environmental factors affecting the workplace.
For example, organizational processes constitute the breeding grounds for many predictable human errors, including inadequate communication facilities, ambiguous procedures, unsatisfactory scheduling, insufficient resources, and unrealistic budgeting in fact, all processes that the organization can control.