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The Field Guide to Understanding Human Error [Kindle Edition]

Sidney Dekker
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The old "Bad Apple Theory" of human error promotes the idea that a system is basically safe, with the exception of a few unreliable people. Breaking new ground beyond its successful predecessor, The Field Guide to Understanding Human Error guides you through the traps and misconceptions of the old view. Sidney Dekker presents the view that human error is an organizational problem, and suggests how to apply new theories to your organization, handling questions about accountability and constructing meaningful countermeasures.


Editorial Reviews

Review

' No matter if the reader is an upper level executive in an aerospace company, a member of an accident investigation team, a safety engineer, or a university student, Sid's Field Guide is equally as useful. This book presents important ideas for those who regulate human factors investigation and research, making it an essential read for the academician, the research analyst, and the government regulator' --International Journal of Applied Aviation Studies, Vol 7, No 2

About the Author

Sidney Dekker is Professor of Human Factors and Flight Safety, and Director of Research at the School of Aviation, Lund University, Sweden. He has previously worked at the Public Transport Cooperation in Melbourne, Australia; the Massey University School of Aviation, New Zealand, British Aerospace, UK, and has been a Senior Fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. His specialties and research interests are system safety, human error, reactions to failure and criminalization, and organizational resilience. He has some experience as a pilot, type trained on the DC-9and Airbus A340.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best guide to how to investigate error May 31, 2008
Format:Paperback
Essential reading for any safety investigator. An eye-opening way to transform your investigations by moving from the old-view to the new-view. I've used this book as a 'course book' for a seminar of 25 safety professionals to great effect. Plus there is a good guide to the role of a safety department too.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to the basics November 22, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
We all are extremely good to forecast the past. When this simple principle is applied to human error, it is very easy blaming the human operator.

Dekker tries to put himself in the shoes of that human operator showing why an analysis that does not try to understand an event from that position is useless.

There is a very hard criticism to different kind of positions taken by people that do not make that effort.

If we try to make something as a "winzip on a summary" of the book, I think we could reach these conclusions:

When we have to analyze an event, it should be useful starting with this hipothesis: "People are not usually dumb, people are not usually crazy and people have not usually chosen the day of a big accident to make self-killing." This starting point could be enough to avoid many of the practices fairly critiziced by Dekker.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top 5 Human Factors Recommended Reading February 12, 2009
By Clark
Format:Paperback
Mr Dekker's books should be required reading for all accountable executives in high reliability organizations. Over 30 years as a continuous system improvement advocate, I have recently developed a "Recommended Reading" list for those who are new to the field of human factors and system safety. Dekker now as 3 books on that list, with the recent release of "Just Culture."

We live in the information age now; the only way to improve our lot is to share information for the purpose of continual learning. Dekker's approach points the way.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction to systems thinking December 5, 2013
By M. Rayo
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is the perfect introduction to systems thinking when trying to understand accidents, improve safety, and make systems more resilient. The examples are great, and the author's perspective comes through loud and clear. He puts in clear relief the "old way" and "new way" of thinking about error, lays out his case for transitioning to the new way, and does it all clearly and concisely. Great read! I'll be buying extra copies to lend to colleagues.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very "long" book to explain a simple concept February 2, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book feels too long for the content. By the halfway mark I lost interest because every page seemed to be a enforcement of "human error is where a investigation should start, not where it should end". I was hoping to see more examples on which typical system constructions or set ups cause human error.
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Format:Paperback
I agree with some other reviewers that there's a bit too much repetition in this book, and in fact there's considerable repetition across Dekker's numerous books. But they're good books which have substantially shaped my thinking related to safety, and I enjoy reading them because Dekker probes the issues deeply in an engaging and conversational way.

This particular book purports to be a 'field guide', implying that it has a 'how to' orientation. To some extent it does, but it should be clarified that the focus is *understanding* human error, not investigating it or preventing it (and the book challenges the utility of the concept of 'human error'). As such, the main goal of the book appears to be presenting a theoretical framework for thinking about safety which Dekker, as a member of the safety research community, has developed over the past two decades. The core elements of this framework might be summarized as follows:

(1) Many of the systems we deal with are complex, with interactions of both human and physical factors.

(2) Complex systems aren't inherently safe, their natural tendency is to drift towards failure.

(3) We don't see more failures than we do because people, generally being well intentioned, are continually making an effort to cope with the pressures they face to achieve various goals, while simultaneously trying to avoid failures and maintain safety. This usually requires transcending formal rules and procedures in order to adapt to the needs of particular dynamically evolving circumstances. But sometimes these efforts do fall short, cumulatively over time, hence we have some failures.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stopped half way thru February 14, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Repeats the same thing too often.
Couldn't hold my attention.
Book could be half as long and give you all the info.
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By lucky d
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well written text that can be applied across any industry with safety related work. Good use of airline and other examples in each chapter.
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More About the Author

Sidney Dekker is Professor of Human Factors and Flight Safety, and Director of Research at the School of Aviation, Lund University, Sweden. He has previously worked at the Public Transport Cooperation in Melbourne, Australia; the Massey University School of Aviation, New Zealand, British Aerospace, UK, and has been a Senior Fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. His specialties and research interests are system safety, human error, reactions to failure and criminalization, and organizational resilience. He has some experience as a pilot, type trained on the DC-9and Airbus A340.

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