ComplianceMay 16, 2022

Why are human factors so important in risk management?

Organizations want to focus on their primary process, because this generates revenue and added value for their goals.

As in any process where humans are involved, human factors play an important role. Risks of potential deviations from the primary process need to be mapped in order to identify causes and system controls. These risks can be understood using the bowtie methodology. The bowtie diagram displays the causes of potential deviations, the unwanted scenario that organizations may face, and the controls necessary to prevent or mitigate incidents.

Incidents are a combination of complex events and many organizations include “human factors” in generic terms in the causation path of a system failure. For many people it is hard to specifically identify human factors and understand how to manage human factors. What are the human factors that causes system failure? Is it a language barrier, incorrect interpretation, fatigue, or is it culture driven? People tend to use generic terms when it comes to human factors, but each human factor requires a different approach to prevent system failures. These different approaches in managing human factors can be mapped on the bowtie diagram and linked to each system that has the potential to fail.

It is important to indicate human factors specifically, because this allows you to identify controls to manage these human factors. A barrier to prevent tiredness has different functionalities than a barrier that prevents incorrect interpretation. One barrier strengthens the other, but these barriers are easier to manage when they are individually and specifically described. There are different ways to take human factors into account in bowtie modeling. Click the link to find out what they are.

More information

Understanding the impact of human behaviour on your primary process is key. With the bowtie method you can identify and manage the effect of human factors. How does this work? Find out more on our solution page.

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