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The Human Contribution Paperback – December 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


'The serious reader will find the book intensely moving at times. The wealth of real case studies, tragedies, splendid successes and discoveries, make it well balanced and difficult to put down. Certainly it merits repeated reading for continuous satisfaction and inspiration.' --Occupational Safety & Health, May 2009

About the Author

James Reason was Professor of Psychology at the University of Manchester from 1977-2001, from where he graduated in 1962. His primary research interest has been the human and organizational contributions to the breakdown of complex, well-defended systems. He has written books on absent-mindedness, human error, aviation human factors, on managing the risks of organizational accidents and, most recently, on error management in maintenance operations. He has researched and consulted in the fields of aviation, railways, nuclear power generation, maritime safety, oil exploration and production, mining, chemical process industry, road safety, banking and health care. He received the Distinguished Foreign Colleague Award from the US Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, the Flight Safety Foundation/Airbus Industrie Award for achievements in human factors and flight safety, and the Roger Green Medal from the Royal Aeronautical Society for contributions to human factors as applied to aerospace, and the Flight Safety Foundation/Boeing Aviation Safety Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, the Royal Aeronautical Society and the British Psychological Society. He received an honorary DSc from the University of Aberdeen, and was awarded a CBE for contributions to patient safety. In 2006, he was made an honorary fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Arena; 1 edition (December 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0754674029
  • ISBN-13: 978-0754674023
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #490,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By S. D. E. Diekstra on February 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
James Reason's importance in shaping the current view on safety and accidents cannot be overstated. I could not agree more with this claim on the back cover of his latest book. The accident causation model that has brought Mr. Reason global fame, the Swiss cheese model, is at the foundation of most of the risk analysis models in use today.

The Human Contribution adds further to James' work but it also summarises a lot of his previous work. On the theoretical side, James describes some new risk models and comments on recent developments in risk models developed by others. Some of his comments are particularly interesting, I will provide you some extra highlights further below.

At the core of his new book are the stories of major accidents, in particular those where `heroic actions' prevented much worse from occurring. The Boeing from Air Canada that had to make an emergency landing on an air strip so small that the pilot had no choice but to gamble flying as if it was a glider plane (no one ever dared trying that). Captain Rostron who rescued the survivors of Titanic with an old ship that could have easily suffered the same fate as Titanic. There are many great stories of heroic behavior that are told by James in a very clear and factual manner.

The reason James puts such an emphasis on these stories becomes clear in his chapter on individual and collective mindfullness. The tension between the concept of `human as hazard' and `human as hero' is what Professor Reason has on his mind. His work on accident causation, which has led to the incredibly popular Tripod Beta incident analysis method, has contributed to organisations treating their employees mainly as hazards.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lobke Van Mierlo on July 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
James Reason's books, Human Error, Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents and now The Human Contribution should be a mandatory reading for anyone concerned with safety performance. This book is easy to read and takes us from the Human as hazard to the Human as hero and gives valuable insights. Also the Knotted Rubber band model is an important contribution to understand that safety performance is constantly drifting to either side of the desired safety level and emphasises the importance of staying on top of what is going on. For as Reason says in his final comments in the book "Safety is guerilla war".
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 26, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's hard to add to the very comprehensive review by S. D. E. Diekstra. So here are just a few personal observations:
* The first part of the book is devoted to a series of lists and definitions. Worthy and academically rigorous but, well, dull.
* There is some interesting theory, particularly around the author's "swiss cheese" model.
* The examples or "case studies" take up a fair part of the book and begin to look suspiciously like padding. They could easily be drawn from Wikipedia or similar sources. Much more detail than necessary.
* The summarising chapters, which introduce some additional theory, are worthwhile.

Overall I would have liked to have seen more theory and less detail in the description of accidents, but the book is well worth the money.
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