Human Error Disasters

5 Nov 2019

There is no simple way to completely eradicate human error from your business. Humans are not perfect; to expect 100% accuracy is unrealistic. However, accuracy is critical in many fields like healthcare or construction. When people in these fields make mistakes, not only are they putting individuals at risk, but the company is often also subject to a large fine or penalty. If your company doesn’t have tools and systems in place to catch and correct human mistakes as well as ensuring proper training, you become vulnerable to a higher likelihood of workplace accidents, errors, and the corresponding fallout. By setting contingency plans to catch mistakes and fix them, your business is better protected.

Below, we share some of the more shocking human error disasters we’ve encountered, and the steps businesses can take to overcome them. Our intent is not to poke fun or make light of the tragedy, but to illustrate the importance of accuracy.


The Institute of Medicine estimates that at least 40,000 deaths per year are the result of medical errors. Though there may be multiple factors contributing, human error accounts for the majority of mistakes made including miscommunication between care team members, misreading patient files, inaccurate recording, or worst of all, illegible handwriting. When handwritten prescriptions thrived 7,000 deaths per year could be directly related to doctors’ sloppy handwriting in the United States alone. Accurate handwriting now becomes a life-or-death issue for patients. Many countries have moved to digital methods of prescribing and authorizing prescriptions in order to overcome this, but not all countries can afford the luxury.

Construction and Engineering

Famous engineering disasters such as the Hindenburg airship explosion, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster and fallout, and the sinking of the Titanic can all be attributed to forms of human error: poor training or insufficient knowledge, incorrect math, and poor design that fails under stress.

These fatal disasters are well-taught in history books to illustrate the true potential of human errors. However, the daily hazards involved in constructing our bridges, roads, and homes didn’t make it into the history books.

In the last five decades, construction made huge strides to safeguard employees from the hazards of the job. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration, OSHA, is largely responsible for these changes. While construction site managers dread OSHA inspections and fines, the reality is that the administration’s goal is to make workplaces safe.

[Related: The Real Life Importance of Training and Compliance]


In July of 2000, Air France Flight 4590, a supersonic airplane, crashed almost immediately after takeoff. The plane crashed into Gonesse, a suburb of Paris, killing all 109 passengers and 4 other people in the neighborhood. How? A strip of metal fell off a different plane and was left on the runway, blowing out one of 4590’s tires. A large piece of rubber from the tire shot into the fuel tank under the wing, which is believed to have caused the full fuel tank to rupture from within. The leaking fuel ignited, and the fire brought the plane down.

Airplane security processes have tightened significantly in the last decade, including the steps that air traffic controllers must take to ensure that flight lanes are cleared. However, Boeing estimates that 70% of commercial airplane hull-loss accidents are the result of human error, so stronger training systems to check error and limit mistakes may be warranted.


Cybercrime is a newer threat affecting industries such as healthcare, security, and data information. Cyberattacks often result in users being locked out of their programs until they pay a ransom, or in other cases, private client information is sold on the black market. In July of 2019, Capital One announced that more than 100 million people’s personal information was hacked: credit scores, birthdates, Social Security numbers, and income information.

Much of cybercrime relies on human error. In fact, 99% of targeted cyber attacks in 2018 relied on an inside person's interaction to execute. From clicking on an unsecured link from a stranger to leaving yourself logged in on a secure server, many cyber attackers wait for a human mistake that leaves the system exposed. By creating strong training programs and updating your team on the latest trends in cybercrime, a business can prevent many of the mistakes that cyber attackers rely on to execute their attacks.

Human error is inevitable but can be overcome. Putting plans in place to double-check for errors is critical, but it’s just as important for your business to have contingency plans in place for when mistakes are made. Proper training is a crucial component that can help prevent and reduce human error disasters. By using a tool such as Training Tracker you can ensure that all training requirements are met and documented, and accurate reports can be generated in the event it is ever needed for official inspection. Try Training Tracker risk-free for 14 days and see how it can help reduce the risk of human error for your team.