Safety illusion and error trap in a collectively-operated machine accident
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Workplace accidents involving machines are relevant for their magnitude and their impacts on worker health. Despite consolidated critical statements, explanation centered on errors of operators remains predominant with industry professionals, hampering preventive measures and the improvement of production-system reliability. Several initiatives were adopted by enforcement agencies in partnership with universities to stimulate production and diffusion of analysis methodologies with a systemic approach. Starting from one accident case that occurred with a worker who operated a brake-clutch type mechanical press, the article explores cognitive aspects and the existence of traps in the operation of this machine. It deals with a large-sized press that, despite being endowed with a light curtain in areas of access to the pressing zone, did not meet legal requirements. The safety devices gave rise to an illusion of safety, permitting activation of the machine when a worker was still found within the operational zone. Preventive interventions must stimulate the tailoring of systems to the characteristics of workers, minimizing the creation of traps and encouraging safety policies and practices that replace judgments of behaviors that participate in accidents by analyses of reasons that lead workers to act in that manner.