At ASI our major focus is on the relationship between humans and their environment with emphasis on ensuring that the environment is designed and manufactured or constructed in a way that minimizes the threat of hazard exposure to humans. A typical response by some less informed individuals regarding accident causality can sound something like: “He should have been watching what he was doing,” or, “She should have been more careful.” However, human factors/ergonomics precepts specify that it is virtually impossible for a human being to remain 100 percent hazard vigilant 100 percent of the time.
Thus the need for safety engineering. Safety engineers utilize well defined techniques to identify, evaluate and either eliminate or control hazards in the environment. Many hazards exist but are not readily identifiable by persons who may be exposed to the hazard. Once identified, a hazard must be evaluated to determine its relative potential for personal injury or property damage. If possible, a hazard should be eliminated through the design process prior to the time human exposure to the hazard occurs. If it is not possible or it is impractical to eliminate a hazard it must be guarded or controlled through a combination of design, engineering and manufacturing procedures to ensure that humans are reasonably separated from the hazard. As a last resort, if the hazard can neither be eliminated nor reasonably controlled, humans who may be exposed to the hazard must be warned of its existence, the consequences of hazard exposure, and the actions necessary to avoid hazard contact. Such warning must be crafted to ensure that the foreseeable class of persons expected to encounter the hazard will be reasonably compelled to modify their behavior to avoid hazard exposure.
Because the interaction of humans with their environment is a complicated system, it is essential that the aforementioned safety engineering analyses be performed in a manner that considers all aspects and variables of the system, with the implication that systems engineering is a key component for analysis. Furthermore, because the human component exists within the system, the human factors/ergonomics analysis component must not be overlooked. It follows then, that the only way to arrive at a reasonably complete analysis of an incident with undesirable outcome is to combine human factors/ergonomics techniques, systems engineering techniques and safety engineering techniques throughout the course of the analysis. This is precisely the methodology practiced by ASI, and has proven to be an excellent tool for incident analysis for almost 30 years.