Nancy Leveson is Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). For the past 35 years, she has conducted research on all aspects of system safety including engineering design, operations, management, and culture.
She is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and has received many awards for her work. Prof. Leveson has published over 200 research papers and is author of a book, Safeware: System Safety and Computers, published by Addison-Wesley in 1995 and translated into Japanese and a new book Engineering a Safer World published by MIT Press in 2012 and currently being translated into Chinese and Japanese.
Integrating Humans into Engineering Hazard Analysis
To understand and prevent accidents, we need to consider the system as a whole. Despite calls for human-centered design that are at least 20 years old, this goal is still elusive. Too often, human factors experts concentrate only on the operators or social aspects of the system and the design of the interface while ignoring the technical design. At the same time, engineers concentrate on the technical components of the system while for the most part ignoring human factors. The only thing both groups seem to agree on is the belief that human operators cause the majority of accidents and the solution is to somehow “fix” the operators, the interface design, or operator training.
While this approach might have sufficed when systems were much simpler, today’s highly automated systems are raising new requirements for tight cooperation between the humans and the automation. To make progress in preventing accidents today and in the future, we need to enhance our ability to perform integrated human–system design and to include humans directly in hazard analysis, along with the software and hardware.
In this presentation, I will describe how systems theory can form the basis for such an integrated methodology.