Familiarity blinds us to risk
You get up in the morning; you leave for work, same time as usual. You are going to drive to work in your car following the same route, with the predicated jams at certain junctions and bottle necks along the way. You’ve done it all before no bother, you don’t even think about it. Yet statistically the highest cause of death in the under 40’s is road traffic accidents, this is probably one of the riskiest things you will do today……but you don’t see it, you are comfortable, you have faith in your car and your ability to drive it, you trust other drivers to follow the highway code.
You are going to have an operation, a simple arthroscopy, you are fit and well, no health problems, no allergies and the doctors say you are low risk for complications. You are terrified at the whole idea, what if something goes wrong. You have to trust the ability of the doctors, surgeons, nurses, and theatre staff, you have to believe they will all look after you.
Statistically; the risk of an anaesthetic is less than the risk you take every day driving your car. So what is my point?
We work in hazardous environments, but sometimes we do not see the threats around us because it is all so familiar. Human Factors gives us a new perspective, it enables us to look afresh at our work and work environment, to identify threats and develop tools to help reduce them. Through human factors ‘threat and error’ management we can create safety.