Thursday, January 9, 2014

SeminarFest Highlights New View of Human Error and Safety

Safety is not the absence of failure; safety’s really the presence of capacity
At ASSE’s SeminarFest, Jan. 25 - Feb. 1, Todd Conklin, senior advisor at Los Alamos National Laboratory, will present “Human Error and Safety.” Historically, safety has been measured through the absence of incidents, but new strategies question whether or not this is the most effective way to measure effective safety management. 

“Safety is not really the absence of incidents,” Conklin says. “Safety is really the presence of capacity.” People are safe when they are placed in systems that allow them to use good behavior, make the best decisions and use process safety, he continues, and creating safe systems can be accomplished by examining errors differently.  

“The one thing I know for sure is that workers make mistakes, and mistakes are unintentional deviations from expected outcomes.” Understanding human
error is key in improving any safety program and developing a working knowledge and understanding of human error, is the first step to building processes and systems that are error tolerant.

All too often, workers are held accountable for their errors, as employers fail to recognize that, by nature, errors were not made by choice, and thus should not be considered a violation, stresses Conklin. “People are part of a larger organizational system, and safety is a function of that organizational system,” he says. Rather than punishing employee for their role in an incident, managers can find out how to prevent the incident from reoccurring by asking the right questions.

In his presentation, Conklin will discuss two types of errors, individual errors and system induced errors, and how to recognize and create multiple layers of defenses to protect workers. Attendees will learn to combat these errors by building stronger processes and procedures, creating error-tolerant systems and managing the error consequences.

SeminarFest will be held Jan. 25 to Feb. 1, 2014, in Las Vegas, NV. Register today at