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Keywords:

  • Risk management;
  • risk analysis;
  • management factors;
  • organizational factors;
  • human factors

Complex engineered systems, such as nuclear reactors and chemical plants, have the potential for catastrophic failure with disastrous consequences. In recent years, human and management factors have been recognized as frequent root causes of major failures in such systems. However, classical probabilistic risk analysis (PRA) techniques do not account for the underlying causes of these errors because they focus on the physical system and do not explicitly address the link between components' performance and organizational factors. This paper describes a general approach for addressing the human and management causes of system failure, called the SAM (System-Action-Management) framework. Beginning with a quantitative risk model of the physical system, SAM expands the scope of analysis to incorporate first the decisions and actions of individuals that affect the physical system. SAM then links management factors (incentives, training, policies and procedures, selection criteria, etc.) to those decisions and actions. The focus of this paper is on four quantitative models of action that describe this last relationship. These models address the formation of intentions for action and their execution as a function of the organizational environment. Intention formation is described by three alternative models: a rational model, a bounded rationality model, and a rule-based model. The execution of intentions is then modeled separately. These four models are designed to assess the probabilities of individual actions from the perspective of management, thus reflecting the uncertainties inherent to human behavior. The SAM framework is illustrated for a hypothetical case of hazardous materials transportation. This framework can be used as a tool to increase the safety and reliability of complex technical systems by modifying the organization, rather than, or in addition to, re-designing the physical system.