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Transport safety investigators from the Asia Pacific region have converged on Canberra this week to learn about how human factors influence accidents.

The 32 participants from five nations will attend lectures and participate in exercises conducted by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and featuring leading experts in the science.

Course convenor Dr Richard Batt, the ATSB’s Director International, said human factors were a predominant factor in accidents.

“Research shows 80 to 90 per cent of accidents have a human factor involved,” Dr Batt said.

“This can range from things like operator fatigue, stress, workload, or a lack of crew coordination. These are things that affect performance. Human factors is the second part of the accident enquiry. The ‘what happened’ is the technical aspect, while we look at the ‘why factor’.

Regarded as a science in its own right, human factors is used by all major transport nations in accident investigations.

As part of its regional engagement, the ATSB  makes the course available to countries that  are developing a capacity to investigate human factors, or those that want to update their knowledge base.

The overseas nations represented include Taiwan, Cambodia, Malaysia and New Zealand. The course has also attracted accident investigation managers from several Australian airlines (Virgin, QANTAS, Tiger), the Royal Australian Navy, Royal Australian Air Force, Careflight, Melbourne Airport, Queensland Rail and the University of South Australia.

The ATSB, which investigates major aviation, marine and rail accidents, has three human factors investigators in its team, and gives all of its investigators basic human factors awareness training.

From humble beginnings in 1983, the ATSB’s expertise in human factors is recognised around the world. So popular is the course that bookings are already being taken for 2016.

“The ATSB is a centre of excellence in applying technical analysis and human factors to accident investigation and safety,” Dr Batt said. "These are two fundamental strands to a comprehensive transport safety investigation."

“Some of the techniques identified in human factors in transport safety filter through to other industries,” said Dr Batt. “What began as crew resource management in aviation is now applied as team resource management in other sectors.”


  • Graduation of course participants
  • ATSB Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan, course convenor Dr Richard Batt and participants available for interview
  • Friday 21 November, 12.15pm, Crowne Plaza, 1 Binara Street, CANBERRA  ACT
Media contact: Greg Smith 1800 020 616
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Last update 20 November 2014