Applying our human factors expertise allows the root causes of human errors to be identified so that effective solutions can be put in place so that the same incident does not happen again and applying the learning wider will result in a reduction in overall risks. Also, involving us as an objective and independent participant in the analysis significantly reduces the likelihood of cognitive bias, which is recognised as a reason why learning from incidents is often less effective than it should be.
Human error is often the immediate or direct cause of an incident but it is never the root cause. There are reasons why people make mistakes and failing to recognise this in investigations and follow-up analysis is a key reason why interventions intended to improve safety and reliability are often less effective than hoped. Applying human factors in incident analysis allows the reason why people acted as they did and uncovers the fundamental issues with systems and organisation. This allows true learning to take place that can be applied to achieve fundamental improvements, rather than simply for the incident that occurred. This is particularly the case when information collected over time from incidents and near misses is analysed in a systematic and structured way.