What’s New and Why Is It in MY Standard? Part 3

Is your HF Program effective?

In our last post we learned a little something about Human Factors. Now we’ll learn how tell the auditor, “Go to ‘H’ ‘E’ double hockey sticks!” and have them look forward to the journey.

Originally conceived as an Occupational Health and Safety practice, focusing on controls to minimize safety hazards and conditions leading to personal injury, Human Factors was later adapted by the US military for people working with “complex systems” and adopted by organizations within suitably complex industries such as FAA aircraft repair stations, space vehicle design and nuclear power. It’s a complicated group of disciplines and comprised of multiple components such as ergonomics, psychology, safety, environmental management, training, human resources and corrective action.

It doesn’t stop there. The application of HF is equally complicated, affecting multiple aspects of an organization, including:

  • Work planning
  • Facility and equipment design and planning
  • Maintenance, repair and inspection of product
  • Product design
  • General management
  • Training
  • Work rules

oopsWhen planning work, for example, factors such as the physical and mental fatigue of workers must be considered, while product design must consider the ergonomics aimed at the end-user of the product. The inclusion of HF in ISO 9001 could potentially force companies to consider alternate methods of information transfer in order to reduce mental fatigue; this usually pushes companies to move to methods other than documentation, towards signs, illustrations, verbal instruction. How do you control verbal instruction?

Full implementation of HF under ISO 9001 would be extremely difficult. HF professionals are one third OH&S expert, one third psychology major, one third EMS guru and one third professional trainer. Yes, that’s four thirds; it’s that complex!

Next we have the fact that auditors, who will receive no training whatsoever on Human Factors, won’t know how to audit it. Like the process approach from ISO 9001:2000, the first year or two they will just ignore it. Then, as confidence grows (or ANAB writes CBs up) they’ll come into their own. Bogus nonconformities will be written, costing end user organizations more money as they scramble to fix nebulous, amorphous findings not really grounded in any firm requirement.

homerSo, now what?

Hey look folks, it ain’t rocket science – Illegitimi non carborundum! (Don’t let the bastards grind you down.)

The first thing you do is to adopt the World Health Organization’s definition. The Standard says you must consider (implying this is a requirement) with no documented information needed and it doesn’t mandate“Who’s” definition you must adopt. So (with tongue in cheek) you adopt WHO’s definition. And, it’s perfectly legal.

“Human factors refer to environmental,organizational and job factors, and human and individual characteristics which influence behavior at work in a way which can affect health and safety. A simple way to view human factors is to think about three aspects: the job, the individual and the organization and how they impact people’s health and safety-related behavior.”

Nowhere in the above is there any inference to human error and should there be any question as to how you have considered your human factors, you can smile and remind them that, “It’s the law!” (29CFR 1910 – Table of Contents)

And, there are record requirements required by OSHA – But you don’t have to show them because the information contained therein is of a personal nature.

And… If mention of 10.1(b) comes up, you tell them that you are continually looking for opportunities: correcting, preventing and reducing, all day, every day… no documented information required.

Are you still holding that thought (from Parts 1 & 2)?

ISO 9001:2015 element 10.1 does contain a scary note.

NOTE: Examples of improvement can include correction, corrective action, continual improvement, breakthrough change, innovation and re-organization.

The references to breakthrough change and innovation may someday become the fodder for another post. And, re-organization (Organizational Development) is a discipline unto itself – Let’s see the auditors assess that one!

So, although we have zoomed in on how to deal with one complex topic like Human Factors, I hope you see it’s a simple fix. The requirements might be very involved; the fix doesn’t have to be. The Standard tells us we have to consider all the new requirements but leaves the details up to us. Make sure you consider them before your auditor tries to impose his or her belief system on you.

I hope this helps. Thanks for visiting…

Now for those of you who happen to be Aerospace inclined (or Masochists) the next post will detail everything you need to know about Human Factors in a marathon of useless trivia. Eventually, we’ll discuss all the new additions in detail… Lots of luck!

Note: Once again, The Kilpatrick Group would like to express thanks to Oxebridge Quality Resources International and their Senior V.P. Christopher Paris for his contribution to this series.

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