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70 Examples of Human Error

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Human error is a mistake in the planning or execution of a task that results in a loss or failure. This is a known risk that can be managed with systems, processes, validations, procedures, supervision, management and other internal controls that can be used to reduce or eliminate human error. The following are common examples of human error.
Not paying attention
Failure to notice change
Divided attention
Overfocus on one aspect of a task
Poor system usability
Poor procedure design
Error prone tools
Error prone processes
Misinterpreting sensory information
Misjudging distances
Mishearing things
Misidentifying odors
Using vague language
Noise interference
Using jargon others don’t understand
Lack of feedback
Skipping steps
Performing steps out of order
Deliberately ignoring procedures
Poor decisions
Not making a decision as required
Doing nothing when action is required
Acting when no action is required
Acting before the appropriate time
Inaccurate estimates
Inaccurate assumptions
Unintended physical inaccuracy such as stumbling
Stress induced mistakes
Emotion induced mistakes
Acting on impulse
Panicking in a crisis
Taking shortcuts
Mistakes related to memory
Ignoring warning signs
Neglecting safety procedures
Inaccurate beliefs such as believing that you are lucky and nothing bad can happen
Failure to verify
Deliberately undermining colleagues
Refusing to follow directions
Resisting change to processes or directions
Spatial disorientation
Physically colliding with objects or people
Putting objects in the wrong place
Clicking the wrong button
Entering incorrect data
Misjudging distances
Lack of knowledge
Outdated knowledge
Insufficient training
Inadequate direction
Inadequate processes
Inadequate supervision
Poor lighting
Poor system support
Environmental hazards
Equipment malfunction
Inadequate workspace
Mental fatigue
Physical fatigue
Information overload
Lack of accountability
Ineffective leadership
Ignoring one aspect of a problem

Human Error & Risk

The risks associated with human error can often be reduced by developing processes and systems that are human-friendly and error tolerant. Industries related to human safety such as aviation were early pioneers of techniques to reduce human error. For example, an aircraft maintenance procedure may include a complete inventory of all tools to ensure that nothing has been left behind in a jet engine.

Human Error & Culture

Another important consideration for reducing human error is establishing an organizational culture that encourages people to openly discuss their errors. This is a major issue in fields such as medicine where there is much fear of discussing errors.

Human Error & Accountability

It is common for firms to blame problems on human error by low level employees. This is not acceptable for major problems where systems, management, validations, processes, procedures and other internal controls could have prevented the error. Techniques such as 5-whys can be used to ensure senior management and governance accountability.
Overview: Human Error
Mistakes and oversights that cause losses or inefficiencies.
Related Concepts
Next: Latent Human Error

Human Error

This is the complete list of articles we have written about human error.
Human Error
Human Factors
Latent Human Error
Risk Treatment
Types Of Error
Unforced Error
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