The systems approach differs from other accident approaches in a number of ways.

However, the key points are, firstly, that human error is seen as the outcome of an incident, rather than the cause of incidents. This is in contrast to person-based approaches which focus on who made the error rather than why.

Second, the systems approach is interested in how the interactions between parts of the system lead to errors. For example, how an inadequate training program and limited availability of equipment might interact to shape an instructors performance in a way that leads to an incident. This is in contrast to approaches that focus on the “hunt for the broken component” – such as Root Cause Analysis. Here the focus is on the instructor and their flawed performance in terms of what it was, not on the factors that interacted to create the flawed performance.

Overall, the person approaches and other approaches which focus on component failures discourage reporting because they focus on blame, and fail to address the underlying, system-wide causes of incidents.

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