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A Life in Error


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Table of Contents

List of Figures, Foreword, Preface, Chapter 1 A Bizarre Beginning, Chapter 2 Plans, Actions and Consequences, Chapter 3 Three Performance Levels, Chapter 4 Absent-Minded Slips and Lapses, Chapter 5 Individual Differences, Chapter 6 A Courtroom Application of the SIML, Chapter 7 The Freudian Slip Revisited, Chapter 8 Planning Failures, Chapter 9 Violations, Chapter 10 Organizational Accidents, Chapter 11 Organizational Culture: Resisting Change, Chapter 12 Medical Error, Chapter 13 Disclosing Error, Chapter 14 Reviewing the Journey, Postscript, Index

About the Author

James Reason was Professor of Psychology at the University of Manchester from 1977 until 2001, from where he graduated in 1962. He has written books on motion sickness, absent-mindedness, human error, aviation human factors, managing the risks of organizational accidents, managing maintenance errors, and the human contribution: unsafe acts, accidents and heroic recoveries. He has worked in a wide variety of hazardous industries, though patient safety is now his primary concern. In 2003, he was awarded an honorary DSc by the University of Aberdeen. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, the Royal Aeronautical Society, the British Academy and the Royal College of General Practitioners. He received a CBE in 2003 for his services to reducing the risks in health care. In 2010, he received an Award for Distinguished Service from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, and in 2011 was elected an honorary fellow of the Safety and Reliability Society.


'This book is an authoritative reminder of the journey to gain acceptance of human error as intrinsic to open systems operations as we enjoy it today, portrayed by the witty pen of one of its topmost trailblazers. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and found the segment on organizational accidents a particular gem.' Daniel E. Maurino, formerly Coordinator of the Flight Safety and Human Factors Study Programme, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) 'A fascinating personal and intellectual journey showing the evolution of both James Reason's personal approach and also the broader history of thinking on error and safety. He has a unique gift for making complex ideas accessible within an absorbing and lucid narrative. And all leavened with wonderful examples of human error and some great stories.' Charles Vincent, Imperial College London, UK 'Reason's new book is a master class on human error: a concise tour of his career explaining how mistakes can occur. It is a pleasure to accompany him while he presents his favourite and often funny accounts of fallibility, tempered with insights on the resulting risks and how they can be mitigated. Highly recommended as a taster text or a refresher course on error.' Rhona Flin, University of Aberdeen, UK 'Each chapter of this book tells a story where Reason personally confronted a puzzle about accidents, human performance, or organizational decisions. Together the stories build a comprehensive picture of how safety is created but sometime undermined.' David D. Woods, Ohio State University, USA 'In this delightful memoir, Jim Reason provides an amazingly comprehensive and understandable explanation of how and why individuals and organizations make mistakes and what to do about it. A valuable review for experts and a perfect introduction for beginners.' Lucian Leape, Harvard University, USA 'This book is like a personal and intimate trip through the ideas that pioneered human error and industrial safety. It goes into day-to-day experience of errors, contains testimonials and anecdotal information, and widens to system safety. Everything seems to have been said on the topic, and yet the book puts the matter differently in a manner that is true, full and in plain, jargon-free language. I love this book.' Rene Amalberti, Haute Autorite de Sante, France 'This book is intended for students, academics and safety professionals of all kinds who are interested in avoiding breakdowns that can cause serious damage to people, assets and the environment. It can also be read as a highly entertaining, personal journey through his professional life.' The RoSPA Occupational Safety & Health Journal, December 2013 'A simplified version of the theories that have been the basis of his career, A Life will be especially valuable to operational personnel whose jobs bear on safety, without specializing in it. Such readers could range from top-floor executives to frontline workers. Even specialists who are familiar with most of the content should appreciate the book's concision, smooth flow and glimpses into its author's personality.' Aerosafetyworld, February 2014 'This is a lovely book. James Reason has spent more than 40 years exploring errors and this short and well written book traces his interest and where it has led. It starts with a foreword by Erik Hollnagel, another eminent writer on error and industrial safety, and then a preface in which the author sets the scene.' Australian & New Zealand Journal of Health, Safety and Environment, vol. 30, no. 2

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