A methodology for identifying human error in U.S. Navy diving accidents

Paul O'Connor*, Angela O'Dea, John Melton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objective: To better understand how human error contributes to U.S. Navy diving accidents. Background: An analysis of 263 U.S. Navy diving accident and mishap reports revealed that the human factors classifications were not informative for further analysis, and 70% of mishaps were attributed to unknown causes; only 23% were attributed to human factors. Method: Five diving fatality reports were examined using the consensual qualitative research (CQR) method to develop a taxonomy of six categories and 21 subcategories for classifying human errors in diving. In addition, 15 critical incident technique (CIT) interviews were conducted with U.S. Navy divers who had been involved in a diving accident or near miss and analyzed using the dive team error taxonomy. Results: Overall, failures in situation awareness and leadership were the most common human errors made by the dive team. Conclusion: The dive team human error taxonomy could aid in accident investigation and in the training and evaluation of U.S. Navy divers. Application: The development of the dive team human error taxonomy has generated a number of considerations that researchers should take into account when developing, or adapting, an error taxonomy from one industry to another.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-226
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2007
Externally publishedYes


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