Comparison of simulated accident investigations performed by groups comprised of homogenous “type”

K. Woodcock, J. Tsao, 2005. Proceedings of the Association of Canadian Ergonomists. [CD-ROM] 5 pgs.

A group of 300 safety representatives from the same organization were divided into groups with a homogeneous personality type for a simulated investigation of a hypothetical accident in their industry, following a training seminar on the types and mechanisms of human error. Consistent with past studies, the “SJ” temperament was most common. Within-type similarities and between-group differences were not as apparent quantitatively as qualitatively. Most groups retrieved about half of the story facts, regardless of causal relevance. However they cited few of those facts in their conclusions, which were dominated by inferences about “root causes”. All groups tended to avoid ascribing error to the injured person, despite inclusion in the story of that person’s non-culpable errors. The results suggest that randomly assembled investigation groups are not assured a diversity of perspectives, and that all types will need further aiding to extract more information about human error from accident investigations.

Author: Kathryn Woodcock

Dr. Kathryn Woodcock is Professor at Toronto Metropolitan University, teaching, researching, and consulting in the area of human factors engineering / ergonomics particularly applied to amusement rides and attractions (, and to broader occupational and public safety issues of performance, error, investigation and inspection, and to disability and accessibility.