Embedding cultural factors into the HFACS framework
Heriot Watt University
Word count – Text – 4,409 References - 337
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The paper embeds cultural factors into existing human factors tools in particular, the Human Factors Analysis Classification System (HFACS) framework and the cultural framework which explores accidents from a cultural perspective. The blended HFACS-SYS addresses shortfalls and improves on a tool which is widely used by accident analysis professionals.
Helen Omole has recently concluded her research at the Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh. Her research focused on the role of culture in accident investigation and analysis and human error analysis. This led to the initial development of a cultural framework earlier on in her research. The cultural framework was later merged to already existing framework i.e. HFACS to create the HFACS-CUL Model. Prior to her research, she had work in the helicopter industry and health sector, primarily examining the global equalities in breast cancer and have published a paper based on this research.
EMBEDDING CULTURAL FACTORS INTO HFACS FRAMEWORK
The paper aims to embedcultural factors into existing human factors tools
The paper integrates the cultural framework into the existing Human Factors Analysis Classification System (HFACS) framework. The cultural framework explores the contributory factors of each part of the system from a cultural perspective. The HFACS framework is used as a tool to establish the gaps and ultimately how the cultural components are integrated into the framework. The paperprovides similar expression in the new integrated framework which will be symmetrical to the aim. Ultimately, the integration of the cultural and HFACS-SYS framework is to produce an additional diagnostic tool to the existing HFACS framework.
The previous analyses show that on some highly critical cultural factors, factors which have played a major part in previous accidents is not currently detected. The most significant criterion is that the new framework will provide the same definitions and philosophy used by the two frameworks, if they are used singly.
The paper undertook the following: (a) provided a short description of the cultural and HFACS-SYS frameworks and their key relationship; (b) explored the integration process, and (c) presented the combined framework.
The paper provides further insights previously developed cultural framework, blend them with HFACS-SYS to address this shortfall and improve on a tool which is widely used for accident analysis.
HFACS-SYS will be applicable to a wider audience of practitioners, academia and organisations to assist in the development of cultural training programmes and investigation processes.
Keywords: Cultural factors, HFACS-SYS, Accident analysis, Human error analysis
This paper aims to make progress on how we can embed cultural factors into existing human factors tools and how can we be sure the embedded approach/method works. Do existing accident tools capture culture? Research has shown that interactions (active and latent events) within the system which could lead to an accident (Reason 2000). However, there is a pertinent need to consider the entire system and its contributory role in human performance variability by understanding the underlying cultural impacts. From the foregoing, previous papers had explored key cultural issues using content analysis on selected accident reports;thesepapers identified key cultural themes from helicopter accident reports in order to understand how these factors contribute to accidents. It identified underlying cultural factors leading to the accident, such as individualism (i.e. the extent to which individuals value themselves and their groups/organisations) and power distance (i.e. the power inequality between the managers and the subordinates) (Omole, 2014, 2016).
Secondly, it revealed the contextual environment in which key interactions took place either high or low cultural context, such as extreme politeness and judgment, although there are exceptions. It also showed how cultural dimensions’ differences between the two countries have contributed to these interactions. Lastly, the study highlights the importance of paying more attention to socio-cultural interactions during the accident investigation process and its outcomes. The main contribution of the exploratory study is that it defines culture and how an individual makes decisions stemming from his/her social-cultural dispositions (Omole, 2014).
Further study provided insight into the extent the existing modified HFACS-SYS framework capture the causal factors revealed by the cultural study. The analysis was performed on two case studies measuring highly on the key cultural variables of interest. The HFACS-SYS framework performed well on the whole and can be used to systematically identify underlying human factor causes of accidents beyond the organisational level. The results suggested that ‘latent’ causal factors are more highly associated with the accident in the HFACS-SYS framework in both countries – Nigeria and UK. In addition, these case studies identified other causal factors not included in the original HFACS framework, factors which have been shown to be the difference between normal operations and a serious loss event (Omole, 2015).
In comparison with the new HFACS-SYS results, a cultural analysis of the same reports revealed evidence of contributory factors at each level of the cultural framework in both countries. At the cultural dimension level, weak uncertainty avoidance was associated with the highest percentage of cases for both accidents, although the specific forms of weak uncertainty avoidance slightly differ in some instances. The majority of causal factors of the cultural contextual differences level differ. While the Nigerian accident was associated majorly with the high cultural context, the UK accidents were associated majorly with the low cultural context. These differences showed that although human performance variability leading to unsafe situations is identified in both countries, the underlying causes are different (Omole, 2016).
HFACS-SYS, as it is currently applied, clearly works for identifying some but not all factors. The previous analyses show that on some highly critical cultural factors, factors which have played a major part in previous helicopter accidents, HFACS-SYS does not currently detect them. The aim of this chapter is to take the insights developed previously and blend them with HFACS-SYS to address this shortfall and help to improve on a tool which is widely used by accident analysis professionals. This paper undertakes the following: (a) provides a short description of the cultural and HFACS-SYS frameworks and their key relationship; (b) explores the integration process; and (c) presents the combined framework.
The cultural framework was developed and validated in Figure 1. Interactions between the four levels of the cultural framework are defined by the first level; the cultural dimension contributing to an unsafe situation. The second level defines the contextual differences contributing to an unsafe situation. Contextual differences are defined by the way circumstances are approached by individuals regarding decision making, negotiating and problem solving. The third and fourth levels are the system parts and human actions respectively. The third level of the framework is based on solving complex problems through the system interaction.
The system involves six parts of interactions from the front-line operator to the outside influences (Rasmussen, 1997). The fourth level, the human action categories, is the direct and indirect actions or consequences of actions influenced by their cultural backgrounds. Hence, using the framework, the unsafe situations are traced to actions (Reason, 1990) or the system parts (Rasmussen, 1997). They can also be traced to the differences in the cultural context and the cultural dimension.
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In the development and design process of the cultural framework, no attempt was made to make it deliberately fit into any existing investigation model. The cultural framework was designed based on four different theories relating to culture-individual/system-actions as shown in Figure2. The cultural framework is therefore a theory-driven model.
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Figure 2. Cultural framework – culture-actions-individual interaction; Cultural framework broken down to culture, system parts and their actions
The reason for the proposed framework was to contribute to the understanding of the reason why accidents occur and, on the other hand, enhance other investigation models, specifically with the cultural factors. Its applications were intended to be useful in all safety-critical domains. The framework has multiple advantages, which could be its usefulness as a single framework or in combination with other models. In addition, it includes all the system parts and human actions that could lead to unsafe situations. Lastly, it is easy to construct a cultural link between each level of the framework.
Details of the HFACS have been discussed in chapter 4, based on Reason’s (1990) concept of active and latent failures. Wiegmann and Shappell (2003) applied Reason’s concept to develop a framework to identify hazards and risks called the Department of Defence (DoD) Human Factors Analysis and Classification System (DOD-HFACS). DOD-HFACS describes four main levels of failures/conditions:  Acts,  Preconditions,  Supervision, and 4) Organisational Influences. This study examines the HFACS from the complex system approach and, therefore, creates the Human Factors Analysis and Classification System – System approach (HFACS-SYS).
The HFACS-SYS describes five main levels of failures:  Acts;  Preconditions;  Leadership/Supervision;  Organisational influences; and  External factors. The fifth level was added to incorporate influences outside of the organisation/company based on Rasmussen’s (1997) system approach. This level includes regulators, manufacturer, social, environmental, political, economic and customers’ influences. The HFACS-SYS framework, based on the helicopter industry,is shown in Figure 3. A brief description of the major levels with associated categories and sub-categories is provided below.In order to apply the Human Factors Analysis Classification Systems (HFACS) framework to the cultural framework - system perspective, the original framework was modified to HFACS-SYS as shown in Figure 3.
- Quote paper
- Helen Omole (Author), 2016, Embedding cultural factors into the HFACS framework, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/337289