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Workshop-based methodology to understand the risks in grain export inspection and certification

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Much of the human factors contribution in risk assessment and risk management has been focused on systems or product safety; the profession has a much smaller research base regarding risks to do with regulation, certification and public policy, for example. This paper discusses an explicitly human factors contribution to understanding and managing risk for the inspection and export certification of grain and plant products in Australia. Training and awareness workshops, incorporating elements of focus groups, were run for 12 groups of staff and managers from the government department concerned. As well as training in risk management the workshops were used to come to an understanding of the work of the inspectors and other staff, to identify the sources of risk to the successful completion of their work and to develop the basis for a risk assessment framework and tool. The paper is methodological in focus and describes the development and running of the workshops and explains how a human factors oriented risk register was developed on the basis of identification of potential threats and errors in the system. Whilst the contribution of ergonomics is increasingly important as regards safety risk assessment, professionals have been less active as regards business, public policy and even engineering risk. This paper describes an approach within which a new domain was studied and the risks of all kinds identified, preparatory to development of a risk assessment tool.
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Keywords: export certification; focus groups; grain export; human factors risk; inspection; risk assessment; risk management; threat and error management

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Human Factors Research Group, University of Nottingham, UK,School of Risk and Safety Science, University of New South Wales, Australia 2: School of Risk and Safety Science, University of New South Wales, Australia

Publication date: July 1, 2009

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