[Press and Publications] Getting at the Truth - New book, Human Error - By Design?

August 2001

No. 101

We all make mistakes. Pilots are no exception.

A book about to be published by a University of Leicester expert shows how pilots are unfortunately often blamed for mistakes that originate in bad design, inadequate training, out-of-date manuals, poor-quality maintenance, physically and psychologically exhausting rosters, air traffic control errors and a host of other factors.

Scapegoating is wrong, argues Dr Simon Bennett in his book Human Error – By Design? because it obscures the underlying causes of accidents, thereby denying the industry the opportunity to rectify its mistakes at source. The ultimate outcome is that the industry is not as safe as it could be. Scapegoating is also morally dubious.

The solution, argues Dr Bennett, a lecturer at the University’s Scarman Centre, is to adopt a ‘deep systems’ approach to accident investigation. This approach, grounded in holism, requires that all contributory factors be evaluated. It may require the interrogation of the aircraft’s designers or consideration of target turn-around times.

Says Dr Bennett; “The book makes the case for a more subtle, multi-dimensional approach to accident investigation ... one that includes any factor — social, economic, political, physiological, psychological or technical — that might have influenced the flight crew. To prevent scapegoating and learn from our mistakes we must think holistically about accidents. Not to use the deep systems approach would be an act of unconscionable negligence”.

The book is available from Perpetuity Press at £14.95 orders@perpetuitypress.co.uk or http://www.perpetuitypress.com

Note to editors: Further information is available from Dr Simon Bennett, Scarman Centre, University of Leicester, tel+44 (0)116 252 5700, FAX +44 (0)116 252 5766, email sab22@le.ac.uk

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Information supplied by: Barbara Whiteman
Last updated: 17 August 2001 10:46
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