Human factors briefing note no. 13 – Human reliability analysis

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EI Publications

  • Published: July 2011
  • REF/ISBN: 9780852936085-13
  • Edition: 2nd
  • Status: New

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Methods for determining the reliability of human performance in specific tasks. These can be ‘qualitative’ (describes reliability in words only) or ‘quantitative’ (estimates the probability of human error in a task).

Why human reliability analysis?

Human reliability analysis comprises a group of methods used together to better understand and control human performance. They are advanced methods and this briefing note only provides an introduction to them –it does not provide all the skills needed to conduct an analysis, but will help in understanding them.

The likelihood of a human error in a task is directly related to the way the task itself is designed, and the quality of the following key factors:

  • Workplace design (including the working environment, tools, controls, displays etc.).
  • Documentation (written procedures, signs, labels).
  • Operator competence (level of training, qualification, experience, etc., in the task).

Human reliability analysis is used to gather and present information on these factors in a logical way. Organisations use human reliability analysis to examine the extent to which they have those factors under good control. If the level of control (and therefore human reliability) can be improved, the analysis should point to how this can be achieved. Certain techniques can generate ‘human error probabilities’ for tasks giving an estimate of the chance of a human error.

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