Patient safety

Human factors

Definition of human factors

"Human factors refer to environmental, organizational and job factors, and human and individual characteristics which influence behavior at work in a way which can affect health and safety. A simple way to view human factors is to think about three aspects: the job, the individual and the organization and how they impact people’s health and safety-related behavior."

(Health and Safety Executive, United Kingdom)

  • Human factors review (April 2009)
    pdf, 424kb

    A review of topics and tools undertaken by Rhona Flin, Jeanette Winter, Cakil Sarac and Michelle Raduma (Industrial Psychology Research Centre, University of Aberdeen) for the WHO Patient Safety Methods & Measures working group.
  • Human factors tools
    A range of tools can be used in measuring human factors relevant to patient safety and are available on the following pages. Our aim is to make human factor measurement tools more accessible and easily identifiable when conducting patient safety research.

Other areas of work

  • Safer Primary Care
    Reflect and prioritise the key knowledge gaps and challenges that surround the safety of primary care
  • Reporting & Learning
    WHO Draft Guidelines for Adverse Event Reporting and Learning Systems to improve the safety of patient care.

Contact us

To contact the research team, please email