Human Factors – A Personal Story

2016-07-15 16.29.17I have just relocated from Lisbon, to Toulouse, following the aircraft I am transitioning from a Portuguese airline to a Greek airline, they are now in a paint facility. While exercising, in both Lisbon  and Toulouse, in something approaching 32-35 degrees,  I was reminded of a previous blog post on Human Factors. It is paraphrased below for your enjoyment!

It had been an interesting week for a number of reasons, understanding first hand what real heat is, Bahrain had been in to the mid 40s all week with a couple of days above that. Trying to work in that heat and humidity that can go with it, was an experience! I have survived, but as I was been putting a presentation together on Human Factors and what they mean to a company that is joining my industry!

What are Human Factors?

As everybody who knows, Human factors, is the study of behaviour and characteristics we present. It is also the way in which the environment or other external influence may influence our behaviour. In this case, and in Lisbon, I proved that human performance degrades in intense heat. After 3-4 hours outside an air-conditioned office climbing over, under, in and about an A330 for a Certificate of Airworthiness renewal survey, it was obvious at the end I was slower than I was to start with! The same happened at the end of 6 miles up and down the 7 Hills of Lisbon! I had made sure that I had plenty of water and kept drinking, during the survey and before setting off.

Physical influences like temperature and humidity are relatively easy to see and feel. Appropriate countermeasures, such drinking enough water, staying out of direct sunlight and applying sun-block are easy to act on. What is more difficult to identify and counter appropriately are the affects of fatigue, stress and over-work.  It struck me as I was working on the presentation at 10pm and that I needed to eat. I was a victim of the very subject I was working on! Needless to say I stopped had a meal and tried to relax.

These less noticeable human factors can and are as debilitating as the obvious effects of the environment, heat, humidity, cold etc.  If I can let it happen to me, it can happen to anybody. I am trained in understanding and identifying the effects in those that work for me.

Importantly, Human Factors can affect any industry. I read some worrying statics this morning that said the crew of an Air Ambulance, are more aware of Human Factors than the many of the clinicians receiving the patient! It not something that those of us in aviation have kept to ourselves, we will share with any industry!

Watch our for yourself and your teams. Human Factors will bite you when least expect it!