Safety and Human Factors


Safety as we see it in our daily lives and safety as it is discussed as part of complex processes, systems, and high risk organizations, may seem like two different subjects. However, if you think about it carefully we all operate in complex systems full of dangers of their own as well as ways to lessen or avoid these dangers. Consider our modern traffic system. On any given road you are faced with hazards, objects or activities that have the potential to cause injuries or damage. How likely it is that something will actually happen, and how severe the consequences, can be described as the risk presented by the hazard. For example, a rabbit running in front of your car, a deer running in front of your car, or another car cutting in front of you, are all hazards, but the deer and the other car present a much greater risk to you and your car than the rabbit.In order to mitigate these risks, we have implemented controls such as headlights on cars, warning signs, and traffic laws. These are sufficiently successful in mitigating the risk of driving that most of us feel relatively safe inside a moving vehicle. How does this feeling of safety compare with the idea of safety for a nuclear power plant or a pilot? How are these systems analyzed in order to implement controls?


In this assignment you will discuss the meaning of safety to you in your personal life and compare it to that of a high risk organization. Select an everyday activity with a moderate level of risk such as playing sports (be specific) and compare it to a regular activity in a high-risk organization. Provide a complete description of the activity, its risks, and the potential consequences if something goes wrong. Why might you feel safe in one but not in another? Why might your concept of safety be different from one situation to the other? Once you have made your post, read through the other posts. Comment on at least one other post and discuss why your perspectives on safety may differ.


This forum is based on your own personal experience and perspective. You will receive full credit, 25 points, as long as you do the following:

  • Include a complete description of the two activities.
  • Explain clearly your own concept of safety and why you feel safe or not.