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This succinct but absorbing book covers the main way stations on James Reason’s 40-year journey in pursuit of the nature and varieties of human error. In it he presents an engrossing and very personal perspective, offering the reader exceptional insights, wisdom and wit as only James Reason can. The journey begins with a bizarre absent-minded action slip committed by Professor Reason in the early 1970s - putting cat food into the teapot - and continues up to the present day, conveying his unique perceptions into a variety of major accidents that have shaped his thinking about unsafe acts and latent conditions. A Life in Error charts the development of his seminal and hugely influential work from its original focus into individual cognitive psychology through the broadening of scope to embrace social, organizational and systemic issues. The voyage recounted is both hugely entertaining and educational, imparting a real sense of how James Reason’s ground-breaking theories changed the way we think about human error, and why he is held in such esteem around the world wherever humans interact with technological systems. This book is essential reading for students, academics and safety professionals of all kinds who are interested in avoiding breakdowns that can cause serious damage to people, assets and the environment.
This 1991 book is a major theoretical integration of several previously isolated literatures looking at human error in major accidents.
Major accidents are rare events due to the many barriers, safeguards and defences developed by modern technologies. But they continue to happen with saddening regularity and their human and financial consequences are all too often unacceptably catastrophic. One of the greatest challenges we face is to develop more effective ways of both understanding and limiting their occurrence. This lucid book presents a set of common principles to further our knowledge of the causes of major accidents in a wide variety of high-technology systems. It also describes tools and techniques for managing the risks of such organizational accidents that go beyond those currently available to system managers and safety professionals. James Reason deals comprehensively with the prevention of major accidents arising from human and organizational causes. He argues that the same general principles and management techniques are appropriate for many different domains. These include banks and insurance companies just as much as nuclear power plants, oil exploration and production companies, chemical process installations and air, sea and rail transport. Its unique combination of principles and practicalities make this seminal book essential reading for all whose daily business is to manage, audit and regulate hazardous technologies of all kinds. It is relevant to those concerned with understanding and controlling human and organizational factors and will also interest academic readers and those working in industrial and government agencies.
This book analyses and explains the principles behind Safety-I and Safety-II and approaches and considers the past and future of safety management practices. The analysis makes use of common examples and cases from domains such as aviation, nuclear power production, process management and health care. The final chapters explain the theoretical and practical consequences of the new, Safety-II perspective on day-to-day operations as well as on strategic management (safety culture).
Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents introduced the notion of an ’organizational accident’. These are rare but often calamitous events that occur in complex technological systems operating in hazardous circumstances. They stand in sharp contrast to ’individual accidents’ whose damaging consequences are limited to relatively few people or assets. Although they share some common causal factors, they mostly have quite different causal pathways. The frequency of individual accidents - usually lost-time injuries - does not predict the likelihood of an organizational accident. The book also elaborated upon the widely-cited Swiss Cheese Model. Organizational Accidents Revisited extends and develops these ideas using a standardized causal analysis of some 10 organizational accidents that have occurred in a variety of domains in the nearly 20 years that have passed since the original was published. These analyses provide the ’raw data’ for the process of drilling down into the underlying causal pathways. Many contributing latent conditions recur in a variety of domains. A number of these - organizational issues, design, procedures and so on - are examined in close detail in order to identify likely problems before they combine to penetrate the defences-in-depth. Where the 1997 book focused largely upon the systemic factors underlying organizational accidents, this complementary follow-up goes beyond this to examine what can be done to improve the ’error wisdom’ and risk awareness of those on the spot; they are often the last line of defence and so have the power to halt the accident trajectory before it can cause damage. The book concludes by advocating that system safety should require the integration of systemic factors (collective mindfulness) with individual mental skills (personal mindfulness).
The Human Contribution is vital reading for all professionals in high-consequence environments and for managers of any complex system. The book draws its illustrative material from a wide variety of hazardous domains, with the emphasis on healthcare reflecting the author's focus on patient safety over the last decade. All students of human factors - however seasoned - will also find it an invaluable and thought-provoking read.
Since the first edition of Managing the Unexpected was published in 2001, the unexpected has become a growing part of our everyday lives. The unexpected is often dramatic, as with hurricanes or terrorist attacks. But the unexpected can also come in more subtle forms, such as a small organizational lapse that leads to a major blunder, or an unexamined assumption that costs lives in a crisis. Why are some organizations better able than others to maintain function and structure in the face of unanticipated change? Authors Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe answer this question by pointing to high reliability organizations (HROs), such as emergency rooms in hospitals, flight operations of aircraft carriers, and firefighting units, as models to follow. These organizations have developed ways of acting and styles of learning that enable them to manage the unexpected better than other organizations. Thoroughly revised and updated, the second edition of the groundbreaking book Managing the Unexpected uses HROs as a template for any institution that wants to better organize for high reliability.

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