Human Factors and Risk Management at NASA

It's Not Rocket Science!

Human Factors considerations are a critical part of Risk Management, but theyare often overlooked or ignored: 

  • We tend to use good Risk Management practices in many areas of our personal and professional lives
  • Sometimes though, we ignore or overlook these practices, especially those that involve Human Factors
  • Doing so can lead to potentially unsafe conditions or actions that can cause close calls and/or mishaps

Responsibilities at NASA


  • Increase Human Factors awareness/Training in our orgs and emphasize risk reduction / mitigation for all activities (not just the big ones) 
  • Have all teams conduct detailed ‘pre-activity’ briefings to discuss risks and other human factors considerations 
  • Encourage our employees to look for potential failure modes in processes and systems and develop mitigation strategies 
  • Identify tasks and processes susceptible to employee fatigue and ensure employees have adequate rest periods 
  • When close calls/mishaps occur, identify the Human Factors present and find out why the decisions/actions involved were taken 
  • Set high standards, but do not expect error-free performance 
  • Value employee risk reduction/mitigation efforts and accept that these efforts may impact schedule and cost to the activity

Bottom Line: Human Factors considerations are a critical part of Risk Management. It is up to all of us to make sure they are not overlooked or ignored

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