Tag Archives: safety

Runway Incursion

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Runway incursion is a huge issue in the United States (US). The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) defines a runway incursion as “Any occurrence at an aerodrome involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take off of aircraft.”

red dice

Risk Preference and the NAcc

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This study in Brain came from a team from the UK and Spain. They are studying the link between risk preference and the nucleus accumbens (NAcc). Even given the limitations in associating brain activity and human behavior that I acknowledged above, there is reasonable evidence that the NAcc is linked to risk preference. This study is remarkable in that they did a controlled study and the participants were blind to the intervention. This is rare in neuropsych studies where confounds and mediators are hard to control for.

Short-lived phasic electrical stimulation of the region of the nucleus accumbens dynamically altered risk behaviour, transiently shifting the psychometric function towards more risky decisions only for the duration of stimulation. A critical, on-line role of human nucleus accumbens in dynamic risk control is thereby established.

women texting and walking

Texting While Walking

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Results suggest that (a) texting is as unsafe as phone conversations for street-crossing performance and (b) when subjects completed most of the texting task before initiating crossing, they were more likely to make it safely across the street.

We shouldn’t be surprised that texting while crossing the street is dangerous. Do we need a study to show us? Since so many people do it, perhaps we do.

Annual Meeting Banner

HFES 2015 Keynote Address John Nance

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For the remainder of the week we will be featuring post from the HFES 2015 Annual Meeting.

This year’s keynote will be presented by John Nance during the Tuesdaymorning Opening Plenary Session. Nance is a well-known advocate of using the lessons from the recent revolution in aviation safety to revolutionize the patient safety performance of hospitals, doctors, nurses, and others within the health-care domain. His talk, entitled “The Carbon-Based Conundrum,” will deal with the concept that it is only through accepting the inevitability of error that we can eliminate human-caused disasters. As
Nance puts it, “The key to zero disasters is zero denial.”

nutrition facts

Food Labels

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We have a tough tradeoff when designing food labels. Please note that I am not talking about marketing copy or cooking instructions here – just the information regarding contents, safety, and health. On one hand, we would like to give consumers all the information that they want and/or need to make informed choices. But there is only so much room on the label. Even when there is room, we know that consumers are not particularly good at integrating large amounts of information. Rather than risk being confused or overwhelmed, they often just ignore the whole thing and pick whatever their basic emotions prefer – to their own long term detriment.

Alex Jessee, a young mother, went through the “GMO Experience,” one of the four exhibits. She says she learned from it “that these GMOs could be harmful to us, the environment, but they don’t necessarily have to tell us that we’re eating them. Which isn’t very cool.”

Kids on Laptop

Child Safety and Digital Devices

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The amount of screen time we are giving our kids has become a controversial topic. In part, this is because both sides have very good arguments. On one hand, it seems that we are better preparing our kids for the digital world that they will face in their professional future if we get them accustomed to and skilled with the use of digital devices early on, when learning is natural and intrinsic. But on the other hand, there are some consequences of this screen time. We worry that our youngest kids are not socializing effectively. And then as they grow older, they encounter new and often more serious consequences.

Excessive use of computer games among young people in China appears to be taking an alarming turn and may have particular relevance for American parents whose children spend many hours a day focused on electronic screens. The documentary “Web Junkie,” to be shown next Monday on PBS, highlights the tragic effects on teenagers who become hooked on video games, playing for dozens of hours at a time often without breaks to eat, sleep or even use the bathroom. Many come to view the real world as fake.

oil rig

The New Gold Rush

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In the June issue of Industrial Hygiene and Safety News there is an editorial that presents an interesting confluence of personality, cognition, and safety. This is a special issue on the oil and gas industry and the editorial focuses on the culture of the shale oil industry, which is a remarkable parallel to the gold rush of yore (as well as the real estate boom of the 2000s, but I am still too sensitive about that one to talk about it).

In September, 2014, The Atlantic magazine published a lengthy piece on the Bakken and “the sacrifices Americans endure to find decent work.” It’s the same old story. Mostly young, restless, dissatisfied individuals take stock of their situation and make personal risk assessments.

Standing Desk

Standing Desks

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Standing desks seem to be one of those movements that have developed an irresistible momentum. No data needed. They instinctively resonate as a good idea. A no brainer. Why would we need any research to back it up? Sedentary lifestyles are killing us, causing obesity, diabetes, back pain . . . so standing must be better.

If it wasn’t already clear through common sense, it’s become painfully clear through science that sitting all day is terrible for your health. What’s especially alarming about this evidence is that extra physical activity doesn’t seem to offset the costs of what researchers call “prolonged sedentary time.” Just as jogging and tomato juice don’t make up for a night of smoking and drinking, a little evening exercise doesn’t erase the physical damage done by a full work day at your desk.

Caution Tape

Learning to Handle Risk

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There has been a lot of interest in this topic lately. Part of it is the prevalence of helicopter parents who work hard to prevent their kids from being exposed to risks of any kind. When I was a kid, my parents just sent me outside to play. Where I went and what I did was pretty much up to me, although based in part on the smarts and values that my parents had previously instilled. I wandered pretty far afield. And I got into a fair amount of trouble. But for the most part, I got myself out of it.

But adults have come to the mistaken view “that children must somehow be sheltered from all risks of injury,” Frost writes. “In the real world, life is filled with risks—financial, physical, emotional, social—and reasonable risks are essential for children’s healthy development.”