Introduction to organizational human factors and safety. The term organizational human factors can be described in terms of several factors including those of the environment, the organization itself and the job factors in relation to the characteristics of an individual or human and these factors tend to influence the behavior or conduct at the work place and this in a way can affect human safety and health. Organizational human factors can be best viewed in three aspects and these include the individual, the job and the associated organization and how the three affect the individual's health as well as safety behavior. (Flin Et al, 2008). The study looks at how human beings relate to their surrounding environment in several aspects with an objective to better the safety and the operational performance by improvement of the end user's experience. (Wickens, 1983). The study of human factors is normally linked to the aspect of Ergonomics which usually deals with the study and application of human scientific information to design of various objects, environment and other systems for use by human. In summary, human factors elaborate on the job, environmental and organizational factors which interacts with the systems, psychological as well as physiological factors which have an influence to behavior at work. (Helenice 2008).
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Most of the companies put in place sophisticated effective systems of management and technically viable solutions to the control of risks and prevention of accidents, ill-health and other related incidents. The human factors and safety deals with issues to do with human performance in aspects of factors causing human errors in unique scenarios and other broader factors associated with safety culture. The benefit of carrying out organizational human factors and safety analysis is to improve the performance of human individuals at their respective work place and enhance development of design processes and personnel in a manner that will have a positive impact on the safety, performance and the general responsibility of workers. (Hornbaek, 2006)
Concepts of safety.
The concept of safety analyses both the risk and the hazard as far as safety issues are concerned. A hazard can de described as something that can cause harm, risk or poses danger to the health or safety of human being. A hazard can be a physical hazard, an organizational hazard or a procedural hazard. On the other hand, a risk can be termed as the possibility of the chances of occurring of either a loss, a danger or occurring of any other adverse effects. It also involves the possibility of occurring of an injury. (Stanton Et al 2005) The specifications of a risk are usually in terms of the event, the consequence and the circumstance than may happen from the risk itself. The measurement of risks is usually based on the likelihood of occurring of that risk and the effects or the consequences that will or may accompany the occurrence of that risk. The effect or impact that can accompany a risk can either be a positive impact or a negative impact. A positive impact of a risk is desirable and has beneficial consequences to human beings while a negative impact is an undesirable consequence and may be detrimental to human health or safety. (Charles, 2007).
Scientifically, analysis of a risk can be based on several approaches. These include technical approach, economic approach, cultural approach and psychometric approach. To briefly describe them, technical risk approach can be viewed in terms of engineering concept where a risk can be calculated as a product of magnitude of that risk and the likelihood of occurring of the same risk. In engineering view, a risk is seen as an assumption of rationality and it is basically argued base on scientific principles accompanied by strong evidence to support them. (Oviatt, 2000). This approach makes use of checklists, probability assessment of risks and sometimes audits as methods of risk analysis. Engineering view is the most common method of risk approach so far employed. Economic approach to a risk is basically an assessment to a risk based on benefit or sometimes the utility expected but not the danger or harm. The approach is basically carried out statistically based of the collected measurements and such measurements include utility analysis, the cost benefit and the analysis of the outcome of the risk. It also includes analysis of the risk benefit. (Carrol, 1997). This approach assumes that human beings are rationale in a way that they are very cautious of their actions and before they take any action, they have to weigh the benefits and the costs that may accompany that action. The cultural approach to risk is concerned with the sociological framework that tries to look at how various sociological groups in various societies understand and interpret danger. Considering the context of sociology and culture, the manner in which a risk or a hazard is perceived is slightly different and likely to exert a strong effect on hoe it is taken by the society. (Meister, 1999). Both the individualists, hierarchists, isolates and egalitarians have different ways in which they view a risk. Lastly is the psychometric risk approach and this is based on the risk preferences by the specific individuals. In other words, it tries to examine the perception and the reaction of personality to the risk or hazard in context. In order for an individual to asses the risk; several factors will influence the outcome of the assessment. (Kuusela, 2000). One of these factors is the familiarity an individual to the risk. The other factors that will influence the out come of the assessment include the knowledge and science of an individual, the severity of the consequences and the chronic catastrophic potential of the risk. Other factors that may play a role in risk assessment outcome include the immediacy of occurrence of the impacts, novelty, equity and the degree of control of the risk. This approach also acknowledges or takes into account the bias of individual in assessment of risks. The risk perceived by this approach is directly co-related to the severity of occurrence of the consequences ant the dread of the risk. (Carayon, 2007).
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Risks need to be managed and controlled. The aim of risk management is to eliminate the risk if possible but if not, then the risk should be reduced to level too low to cause any health or safety hazard. This level should be acceptable and should not cause any undesirable outcome. (Pierre Et al, 2008) To be able to achieve this, one has to identify the risk immediately after analyzing the context. This is then followed by analysis of the risk to get to the root cause of the risk and also help in identification of points of occurrence of the risk. This is followed by evaluation of the risk to identify the points at which corrective of preventive actions are going to be set. After evaluation, you practically treat the risks or the hazards from either the control or preventive points. Finally, you should monitor and review the whole process to evaluate its effectiveness. (Flin and Mitchelle, 2009).
In any organization or company, it is always safe and manageable to prevent and control safety and health associated risks if a well structured communication system is put in place. In case a risk or a hazard is identified, all members of that particular organization or the company and if possible any other associated or affected party should be informed of the finding so that they can be able to take precaution or any other form of protection from encountering the hazard. This can only be possible if well set and functioning communication systems are in place. Failure to do this, the likelihood of the risk or the hazard to surpass the control or the preventive measures is very high and unpredictable. (Gorden, 1997). The issue of communication is highly vital to aviation organizations or companies where a communication log is supposed to be maintained between the individuals on task in the space and those at the control station so that in case of realization of possibility of occurrence of any hazard or risk for that matter, then either of the parties should be able to communicate and look for an immediate preventive, control or corrective action possible to influence the out come of the whole situation to a desirable one. (Vincent, 2006) So you will find that incase of an emergence in the space and the individuals in the space can not communicate with those at the control station or if those at the control station realizes a risk and they can not communicate it to the individuals in the space, then the likelihood of occurrence of an accident is very high. Therefore a communication log should be kept as viable as possible from the time the plane takes off or exits the airport to the time in lands elsewhere or in another airport to prevent and be able to control related risks and hazards. (Bauer, 2009)
Approach to analysis of human factors and safety
Issues that are concerned with human beings should be handled in a systematic manner. In the systems that are highly automated and other production firms that are labor intensive, the behavior and the decision making by human individuals is always on the focus. (Wickens, 1997). When carrying out organizational human factors and safety, you are supposed to keep a close focus on the possible link between the organization, the machine and the human beings themselves within the system of work. (Boyle, 2009). When doing this, the following are key possible areas to deal with. The first one is that you should establish the root cause of the accident or the incident incase one happens. According to many findings of this, it is the human factor which is the main cause of accidents and other forms of incidents at the work place and it has been found to be the cause of almost eighty percent of accidents in various organizations. The second one is organizational change. (Runciman Et al, 2007). Most of the companies and organizations undergo regular changes and this can be due to expansion or growth of the organization, restructuring of the structural organization of the company, down sizing of the company and changes in the members of the staff of an organization. Such change of the system is believed to have a strong behavioral and motivational impact. The new models of an organization should be always expected by people and those expecting should always be prepared for it. (Sanders, 2007). The third and final area is concerned with the new changes. All the staff and any other member of an organization or a company should be in a position to cope up or adopt the new changes imposed. They are required to be flexible and adaptable since the tasks of the organization get more and more complex as time passes by. There is need to optimize human performance together with human efficiency and this is due to the competition that is setting in globally. The well being of an individual as well as the health and safety are very vital and important productivity factors. Without taking into account these human factors, it then becomes very challenging to fulfill or achieve al these factors. (Porter and Elias, 1964).
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Reviewing of organizational human factors together with safety helps to improve the systems of the work place and this is in consideration of human factors all through the life cycle of the system. The review starts with the analysis on the feasibility and implementation support as well as the continual improvement together with the change in the way the systems run. The company or the organization benefits from such analysis as it enables them in combination of its technological proven solutions as well as the managerial work outs with appropriate approaches of human factors. The improvement processes of possibility are as follows. The first one is the improvement in the leadership and the style of management. (Fetin, 2000). This is composed of improvements in such things like the communication design processes, setting of the goals and the development of trust culture. There can also be a change in the management of human resource as a second improvement. This involves the selection procedure of various personnel, to develop a preventive planning for personnel development and also to develop other plans that will reduce risks associated with human beings. The third improvement is on the organization itself and the design of the work. In this perspective, the analysis can help in improvement of working conditions to those that will pose a less risk to the working individuals as far as health and safety is concerned. (Reason, 2008). The possible areas of improvement in relation to conditions of work include issues like management of stress at the work place among other issues like the design of the task. The group processes can also be improved by this analysis. Many measures of many modern organizations are currently facing challenges as far as the design and effective realization of group processes design is concerned. This can be through assistance to the building of the group team or by elaboration on the concepts of the organization. Improvement can also be realized on the individual and other personality factors. The analysis suggests that the learning process, management of ones self and the competent mode of behavior of in the area of individual risk should be instilled in each and every worker or employee of the associated organization. (Baring, 2004).
Human Factors in maintenance of Aviation
Human factors have been identified as the main causal agents in most aviation centers. If a record of improvement is to be achieved in terms of safety then the human factor or error should be the most targeted. (Thomas 2007). To be able to achieve this, there is need for every aviation center to conduct short and valuable causes to be able to train the members on the foundation of human factors, there application and also in the program evaluation of this human factors. Once the building block has been established on the foundation of human factors, the course goes further into the application part pf human factors into the really working environment. The final part of the course is now to be able to develop and evaluate human factor designed in the class program and this should be in relation to the case study really accident brought about by the airline's maintenance organization. (Frost, 2007).
Human input also affects maintenance operations which comes out as weaknesses in the processes of the organization and can lead to lack of motivation, stress ant sometimes fatigue. Other effects of this include time pressure, inadequate skills and hazard misconception. The problem with many maintenance organizations is that they focus so much trying to chance human condition when in actual sense they are supposed to change the working conditions. (Dumas, 2006). The incidences and accidents are normally seen as the organization's break down. This break down is caused by errors which are seen as part of the consequences of the organizations processes and this errors can be can be corrected or prevented by examining or finding out of the root cause and taking necessary corrective action and avoiding any other trap or future errors. (Wembley, 2006). This learning program is mostly engaged in experimental mode of learning and this is achieved through a series of class room interactive workshops comprising of lectures, analysis of videos, discussion in groups, case studies, discussions and other sessions of practical break through. All the participants are expected to apply the theoretical and practical skills acquired to the real practical world. This session in aviation emphasize much on the human factors, their interpretation and how to enhance safety in the while process. (Cohen, 2002)
In any organization or company, it is always safe and manageable to prevent and control safety and health associated risks if a proper training and seminars on organizational human factors and safety are organized periodically and maintenance of good and effective communication log within the organization or the company.