Human Performance Issues from the Perspective of Safety Experts

  • Post comments:0 Comments
Human Performance Issues from the Perspective of Safety Experts

“Workers, supervisors, managers and VPs can all have human performance issues.”

Cited in a recent ISHN (Industrial Safety & Hygiene News) interview, Mike Doherty, an e-Hazard electrical safety consultant, continues, “Everybody has human performance issues. In time, everyone will be working far more comprehensively with human performance concepts and tools.”

His statement comes from a recent article, NFPA’s Focus on Preventing Human Error, in the October 2019 issue of ISHN magazine.

What Does NFPA 70E Say?

In Annex Q, the NFPA 70E committee defines human performance as follows:

Human performance is an aspect of risk management that addresses organizational, leader, and individual performance as factors that either lead to or prevent errors and their events.  [emphasis added]

The objective of human performance is to identify and address human error and its negative consequences on people, programs, processes, the work environment, an organization, or equipment.

What Are the Tools Workers Should Use?

The 70E standard lists eight human performance tools coinciding with different error precursors.  The Note under Table Q.5 states that the table does not include all possible tools. However, all the tools in the list apply to each error precursor.

Human Performance Tools

  1. Pre-job briefing
  2. Job site review
  3. Post-job review
  4. Procedure use and adherence
  5. Self-check with verbalization
  6. Three-way communication
  7. Stop when unsure
  8. Flagging and blocking

Human Performance in the Electrical Industry

In high-risk electrical work, potential problems exist, including a serious injury or fatality (SIF) due to electrocution, shock, arc flash, arc blast, and severe burns. According to Doherty, human performance has taken off in the electrical world. “Everyone is all over it, ” he says.

However, putting more emphasis on the human aspect of human performance concerns the experts in this article. The danger lies in the temptation to single out worker behaviors as the cause of risks.

Instead, the experts believe focus would be better served looking at performance variability and its role in system reliability.

To read the full article, visit ISHN’s website to view the digital version of their October 2019 issue.


Hugh Hoagland

does research and testing of PPE exposed to electrical arcs and is an arc flash expert. Hugh is a Sr. Consultant at ArcWear and Sr. Partner at e-Hazard. Read more about Hugh.

Leave a Reply