Safety Differently: Human Factors for a New Era, Second Edition (Anglais) Broché – 30 juillet 2014
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The second edition of a bestseller, Safety Differently: Human Factors for a New Era is a complete update of Ten Questions About Human Error: A New View of Human Factors and System Safety. Today, the unrelenting pace of technology change and growth of complexity calls for a different kind of safety thinking. Automation and new technologies have resulted in new roles, decisions, and vulnerabilities whilst practitioners are also faced with new levels of complexity, adaptation, and constraints. It is becoming increasingly apparent that conventional approaches to safety and human factors are not equipped to cope with these challenges and that a new era in safety is necessary.
In addition to new material covering changes in the field during the past decade, the book takes a new approach to discussing safety. The previous edition looked critically at the answers human factors would typically provide and compared/contrasted them with current research and insights at that time. The edition explains how to turn safety from a bureaucratic accountability back into an ethical responsibility for those who do our dangerous work, and how to embrace the human factor not as a problem to control, but as a solution to harness.
See What’s in the New Edition:
- New approach reflects changes in the field
- Updated coverage of system safety and technology changes
- Latest human factors/ergonomics research applicable to safety
Organizations, companies, and industries are faced with new demands and pressures resulting from the dynamics and nature of the modern marketplace and from the development and introduction of new technologies. This new era calls for a different kind of safety thinking, a thinking that sees people as the source of diversity, insight, creativity, and wisdom about safety, not as the source of risk that undermines an otherwise safe system. It calls for a kind of thinking that is quicker to trust people and mistrust bureaucracy, and that is more committed to actually preventing harm than to looking good. This book takes a forward-looking and assertively progressive view that prepares you to resolve current safety issues in any field.
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The text itself is well-edited, but does contain a great deal of overinflated-language and jargon. Therefore, most lay-people will struggle with this work (which simply should not be the case). In this instance, an effortless, informative read is transformed into a dense "undertaking." This is always unfortunate.
Moreover, some of the examples and figures are very difficult to discern. There is one grey-scale example that I cannot decipher (at all). It is located on page 212 and is just a muddied blur. (It is also possible that I have a bad copy (?)).
Now, there are so definite problems with the presentation of this text. I found several sections so compelling that I attempted to share them with a colleague (who is older, but most assuredly, a well-respected authority). About ninety-minutes later, I found her in the hall. She handed the book back unceremoniously and noted that the font (in general) was a strain on her eyes. She then stated that the black-on-gray text-blocks were extremely difficult for her to read and the seven-point font used in the tables was impossible to decipher. I should have anticipated this since even I struggled to read the tables. Certainly, this is no reflection of the writer/author, but of the publishers who should have considered that some very sage but older eyes might have to view this text. Once my friend/colleague said that, I realized how many readers will truly be unable to read/enjoy this text ... merely as a result of poor publishing.
If you are a little older and are struggling with even standard sized font, this text (with its "small" and "smaller" fount) will prove a massive challenge (one that you might just lose). If possible, wait for a third-edition (maybe enough people will point-out this issue and the publishers will rectify it.)
It isn't until chapter 6, at page 173, entitled 'Methods and Models' that the, well, methods and models of HF are discussed. Up until then, it's a historical survey of the field. Given that this book is only 272 pages of text, giving 173 of them to a historical survey is quite generous. But even the Methods and Models chapter is a high level view, a sort of Philosophy of Human Factors, not anything that could be mistaken for an introduction to the field.
The author's purpose in writing this book seems to be primarily to document and discredit any HF method that ignores broad, systemic context in any HF analysis. Lab-based studies get a lot of condescension. The argument is, i think, that as HF moves into the silicon age, the very philosophy of the field will need a reboot.
Whether or not you agree with the content or presentation thereof, the book itself is sorely lacking. There are a few images in the book, and they're all of the black-and-white, photocopy-of-a-photocopy quality that makes it nearly impossible to distinguish anything at all in them. The images are so low quality that the book would have been improved by omitting them. The text is slightly clearer than the images, but not much. Jargon flies hard and fast. I tripped over the word 'hermeneutic' on page 172. Not being familiar with that word, i flipped to the index. What i found there was 'Hermeneutics, universality of, 198, 202'. Only there on page 198 are we treated to the definition ('the study of interpretation' though google suggests it's usually applied to the bible or literary texts).
As i said above, this is not a book about HF. About the only category of person i could imagine reading and making use of this book would be a manager transferred into supervising an HF department, who wants familiarize themselves with the field whilst simultaneously finding a way to make their own print on their new department.
If you're actually interested in the field of HF, try books like Human Factors in Simple and Complex Systems, Second Edition. If what you really like is the stories of accidents, and then analyses of what went wrong from a HF perspective, try Set Phasers on Stun: And Other True Tales of Design, Technology, and Human Error.
Dekker's main point seems to be that trust and confidence in human ability should replace the trust in "bureaucracy, protocol and process" (pg 235). While this is inspiring in itself and perhaps it is the way to move forward - to have faith in human potential instead of in processes - it would seem that the road to this goal may be fraught with many losses. Especially when considered from the perspective of safety in Aviation it seems a little naïve to think that businesses should have blind faith in the ability of their workers when the cost of making a single mistake can result in the loss of hundred's of lives. Processes and protocols in the Aviation industry are put in place to standardize human performance to the best of the ability of each worker. Transitioning to trust in the individual without processes in place (when depression, distraction, etc., can and do interfere with performance) can be a dangerous idea. In fields where human error can have drastic consequences a transition to a more 'trusting' way of thinking may be the way of the future but the process of that transition could be an unacceptably dangerous one.
The book does do an excellent job of questioning how we have come to think about workers and safety processes today and has the potential to turn Safety thinking on it's head. It is a book meant more for those designing Human Factors improvements in the organizations rather than for lay persons in the field. It would probably be of little use to Safety investigators of airline crashes but would, on the other hand, be of some use to those designing how Safety investigators approach their reconstruction and examination of crashes. So, an intriguing read but not an easy game changer.
This book did reinforce my insistence that all safety measures must take into account structural safety and human error potential. As I read this book i thought a lot about Sweden's traffic policy of zero deaths. Their civil engineers have built in the fact that humans make mistakes but that these errors should not result in death. The message from this book definitely supports that tenet.
I am sure this book will end up on many course listings for loss control and industrial hygiene. It seems unfortunate that it could not be more fluid and engaging reading. The topic is interesting as well should be the texts.
Excellently researched, it is not a "friendly" read. It's highly academic in nature, which is interesting because Dekker is actually a very compelling presenter in-person. The effect of the dry text is mitigated somewhat by including a table of contents in the beginning of a chapter, which helps to quickly find a relevant point. In addition, the review questions are well-designed and thoughtful.
The font can be a little small at times too, and I'm surprised someone at CRC didn't fix that issue.