This article was originally published in the Emirates Diving Association magazine on 1 Mar 2020.
There is a growing focus on Human Factors and non-technical skills in the global diving industry, much of which is being driven by Gareth Lock, the UK-based founder of the system described on www.thehumandiver. com. His book ‘Under Pressure’ has helped thousands of people worldwide to take a fresh look at the way they think about diving.
You may be wondering what human factors and non-technical skills are, as it’s not something we talk much about locally.
To demystify these terms, let’s first talk about what they are not. These are not diving qualifications – they are not going to take you deeper or teach you about new diving equipment or diving skills (hence the term ‘non- technical skills’) and they are definitely not ‘just another cert card’ to add to your collection.
Non-technical skills are all about improving decision...
One of the key themes I teach is that safety is not necessarily the absence of accidents or incidents, but rather the presence of barriers and defences and the capacity of the system to fail safely. This quote comes from Todd Conklin, a researcher and practitioner working in the safety and human performance industry in the US. The idea is that we develop technical and non-technical skills and design the equipment, procedures and training and manage the environment so that risk is managed at an acceptable level. However, we can't design or manage everything beforehand, so we need to be able to handle those 'odd events' and then share the stories so that others may learn.
In rebreather diving, one of the best ways to ensure that the unit is safe to dive is to make sure that the build and final pre-dive checks are completed. However, even if this is done diligently on the surface including packing the scrubber and then executing the complete set of final checks, things can go...
If you want to do something new which improves your safety or performance, how committed are you? If you see something shiny, how easy is it to buy that compared to making a change to your habits or behaviours? Which is likely to have a greater effect on your diving?
Three weeks ago I met Isabel, a business coach specialising in branding and marketing, with a view to working with her. She had been recommended to me as a coach who has the knack of pulling coherent ideas from the free-flowing discussions and coming up with a clear message regarding an offer, branding and identity.
As Isabel and I sat there waiting for our coffee to cool down and talking about the future, she asked me a really important question. “On a scale of 1-10, how committed are you to making a difference to your business so that you can grow and get to where you want to be.”
I said "9". I also added that given the time I put into developing human factors and non-technical skills...
Normalisation of Deviance’ is a term which has become more popular in diving environments with articles being written by well known individuals such as Steve Lewis and Andy Davis explaining the context in terms of diving accidents in the US and Dr Guy Garman’s fatal attempt for a world record OC dive respectively.
The video clip below is a modification of a presentation I have previously given and combined two concepts looking at drift. The first concept is about systemic migration to the boundaries, a concept from Amalberti’s 2001 paper on “The paradoxes of almost totally safe transportation systems”. In it he showed that internal and external pressures drive operator behaviour towards potentially unsafe or adverse events. The diagram below shows this in more detail. It also identifies that more rules are unlikely to change behaviours.
In another paper by Amalberti, this time on violations and migrations in healthcare, he and his authors wrote:
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