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International Journal of Man-Machine Studies

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Accidents are the consequences of highly complex coincidences. Among the multitude of contributing factors human errors play a dominant role. Prevention of human error is therefore a promising target in accident prevention. The present analysis of 100 accidents at sea shows that human errors were not as such recognizable before the accident occurred. Therefore general increase of motivation or of safety awareness will not remedy the problem. The major types of human error that contribute to the occurrence of accidents are wrong habits, wrong diagnoses, lack of attention, lack of training and unsuitable personality. These problems require specific preventive measures, directed at the change of undesired behaviors. Such changes should be achieved without the requirement that people comprehend the relation between their actions and subsequent accidents.