Human Error

Recently in Hawaii a nuclear missile warning was issued only to be rescinded 38 minutes later.  If you’ve read any of the stories about those 38 minutes, you know it was a harrowing experience for most people.  

In the aftermath, the main question was why did it take 38 minutes to make the recall announcement? 

A spokesperson for Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said it was ‘human error’ and they are now working hard to make sure it does not happen again. 

How can you eradicate human error?  You really can’t.  Oh, sure, procedures can be created, guidelines and policies can be enhanced in an attempt to reduce the chance of human error, but as long as you still need a human to push the button, or, as long as we are on the planet, human error will always exist. 

Nuclear warnings aside, human errors have sometimes resulted in positive outcomes.  Penicillin anyone?  Yes, discovered by accident, or a human error in petri dish management, whichever way you choose to look at it.  And post-it notes. Another error, another discovery.

Human errors are here to stay, and really, being human and all, we can’t have it any other way.  Let’s just hope that the nuclear buttons themselves are so embedded in procedures and safeguards they are not available for casual human error.  Or impulse.

Posted without error, I hope, is this week’s episode, Contentment is for Cows; Scene Three.

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