This paper highlights the value of systems theory and its application to human and organizational factors (HOF). HOF specialists consider multiple systems characteristics in their analyses but are often unaware of the relevant theory applied in their analysis. We argue that a structured effort to take key systems characteristics into account in HOF practice would increase the depth and breadth of safety management analyses and help HOF specialists to act more effectively on industrial socio-technical systems. First, the paper identifies the following seven system theory characteristics: constitution, multi-axis representation, limit, emergence, variety, coherence, and causal interaction, which are then illustrated with examples from the HOF field. Finally, we discuss the two main benefits of integrating system thinking in a HOF approach to safety management: (1) an improved understanding of the inner workings of an industrial socio-technical system; and (2) a compendium or a reference to guide for decision-making and the implementation of actions within the industrial socio-technical systems.
The Environmentalist – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 4, 2018
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