Do Job Aids Help Incident Investigation?

Technical report; Drury, C. G.; Ma, Jiao; Woodcock, K. 2001. SUNY at Buffalo.

A previous study established that investigators only collect a fraction of the available facts, and further select facts for their reports. The current study was designed to measure the effectiveness of job aids in improving the thoroughness of investigations of incidents in aviation maintenance. The methodology involved having participants investigate a known incident scenario by asking the experimenter for facts, as they would in their normal investigation routine. The two job aids used were the Maintenance Error Decision Aid (MEDA) developed by Boeing and the Five Principles of Causation (Marx and Watson, 2001). Both are used extensively in aviation maintenance. We tested a total of 15 experienced users of the two job aids, where the investigators were provided with the job aid they had been trained to use. Eleven of the 15 participants used their job aids during the investigation but four did not. The results showed a significant improvement in investigation performance when the job aids were actually used.

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.