The contribution of latent human failures to the breakdown of complex systems
The challenge facing the human reliability community is to find ways of identifying and neutralizing the latent failures before they combine with local triggering events to breach the system's defences. New methods of risk assessment and risk management are needed in order to achieve any significant improvements in the safety of complex, well-defended, socio-technical systems. This chapter distinguishes between active and latent human failures and proposes a general framework for understanding the dynamics of accident causation. It also suggests ways in which current methods of protection may be enhanced, and concludes by discussing the unusual structural features of ‘high-reliability’ organizations.
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