A Margin Of Human Error – By Seth Dogbey

The football match between England and Ukraine at the just ended Euro 2012 has fashioned yet another striking event that has finally modified the face of world football. That is, the introduction of goal line technology. Prior to this, FIFA in its quest to cut down or even eradicate controversial decisions in the game, has gone to the extent of providing additional referees behind the goal posts apart from the conventional 3 that we know of. By the reason of their location on the pitch, it is obvious that their primary task is to resolve issues or decisions that surround the goal line, as to whether the whole circumference of the ball has crossed the line or not. Concerning this issue and this particular match in questions, videos and replays have shown that the ball actually did cross the line. Not only that, the assistant referee responsible for that goal post was seen vividly looking as the action took place. What then could have been the cause of the wrong decision made under such a circumstance with the referee’s eyes glued to the action?

Have you ever wondered why a trained and qualified health worker may end up giving a wrong dose of an injection to a patient that will eventually lead to the patient being maimed forever? Maybe that renowned electrician you brought in to fix an electrical problem in your home has ended up faulting somewhere which has led to the electrocution of an occupant in your home. Or perhaps, you have once heard of this situation of a surgical doctor leaving an instrument in the stomach of a patient after undertaken a surgery. Should there be any reason why events such as these will continue to occur? Well, ‘to err is human’ it is.

We as humans have clinched to this notion since the inception of humanity. Day in day out, every activity of man has to some extent a margin of error that stems from a number of factors such as forgetfulness, lack of concentration, fear etc. and the resultant effects are stuffs not to be remembered. There is however some perception that human error is deliberate. The truth is, as human as we are there is the surety of a percentage of error under any circumstance should the factors mentioned above creep in. A margin of human error under any circumstance shouldn’t be so much a problem as it seems to be today or a cause for shifting blame since it appears to be inevitable. The strive for perfection in itself is a major threat to any good performance. We should be robots or computerised systems to do things perfectly without errors, isn’t it? But so far as we are humans, ‘to err is human.’

What I want to get across is that, some people behave as if there is nothing such as error in human nature. They yell and shout at the least error committed by their subordinates creating the impression that they are good for nothing. It is rather unfortunate that this kind of attitude of finding faults in every activity tends to daunt any ability in a person to continue any good work.  Criticism is good, but the manner in which it comes counts a lot. It may end up totally destroying what someone has started or propel the person to greater heights.

When we all accept that error is part of us and that it can reveal itself at times least expected, it enables us appreciate one another’s effort in any endeavour. We should learn to tolerate each others mistakes to a certain level. A certain level because, one should know that all fingers are not equal and that we all have different levels of Intelligent Quotients (IQ). So the fact that you are intelligent at a particular rate doesn’t mean all those around you should be intelligent at that same rate. When you appreciate and understand these facts, it makes you acknowledge the effort of others. And if you realize that you cannot keep up with the low minds around you, just replace them with the ‘sharks’ that can keep up with you instead of keeping them and dampening their spirits all the time to the extent that the little they can do eludes them forever.

Having said all these, it looks like accepting human error in some situations and circumstances become a huge chunk to swallow, especially when it is directly concurrent to human life. Won’t it be difficult enough to accept the error of an experienced doctor which has led to the death of a loved one? Won’t it be challenging enough to admit the error of a pilot who runs out the runway to cause the loss of 10 lives whereas he stays alive? Won’t there be a cause to worry should a soldier or policeman misfire a rifle and a stray bullet kills an innocent child? Surely it will not be easy to take. It will surely be a worrying sight. But the question is, is there going to be any mechanism to forestall the future occurrence of these events? No! I don’t believe so. So far as we continue to remain human and not robots or spirits, these things are bound to happen.

It is therefore prudent that we live in this consciousness that errors are bound to happen and can come from anybody at any time so far as we remain human. By so doing, we will develop a big heart to gracefully accept this challenge than always finding ways of shifting blame.

I will therefore want to leave us with this question; when it comes to professionalism, is there really a difference between what constitutes human error and that of negligence? And should there be any reason for tolerating one and not letting the other go unpunished?

I know not much, but that which I think, I make known.