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Human factors

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines human factors as: “Environmental, organisational and job factors, and human and individual characteristics, which influence behaviour at work in a way which can affect health and safety (2019)”.

Soft skills

Human factors are the elements other than an individual’s clinical skills and knowledge that contribute to the success of their job. There is clear evidence that teams and professions who consider human factors when designing their processes, training their teams and communicating with each other are safer, more effective and less stressful to work in. 

Although they are sometimes called ‘soft skills’, human factors are anything but. The term covers the nature of the task, the ergonomics of the workplace, processes and procedures and other factors like interruptions. It also encompasses decision-making requirements and the consequences of errors. 

Individual characteristics also affect behaviour, and some are more amenable to modification by the development of new skills and attitudes than others. Similarly, organisational culture, resource availability and communications processes and styles all have a significant impact. 

Human factors training is in the undergraduate and postgraduate medical curricula. To upskill members in this subject, we have a human factors section on the e-learning hub containing useful resources. 




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