IABSE Workshop “Ignorance, Uncertainty and Human Errors in Structural Engineering” is the 5th edition of annual international engineering events by the organizers focusing to the fundamental aspects for making structures safe and functional. As continuation to the previous themes, the present edition addresses ignorance and human errors.
Over several centuries the viewpoint of structural engineers on structural safety has been largely mathematical – compute the resistance of a structure using some generally accepted method; deterministic or probabilistic; for given or assumed loads or actions. Other things that might have influence the safety has been ruled out as being considered responsibility of the other professionals.
Despite of all numerical computing power, surveillance routines and instrumentation we have today, our knowledge of hazards and our skills on putting them to loads and mathematical models is limited and uncertain. The robustness concept of structures and design; our key theme in the workshops 2013 and 2015; is one direction to augment the above approach. In it, one want to achieve resistance of structures also to unidentified and unknown actions; including implications of ignorance and human error; in a sense that failure is not disproportional to the failure it is caused by.
Problems in practical engineering work could often be categorised as human and organizational errors. Taking into account that almost every accident, including structural failures, involve human errors, our view to safety cannot be comprehensive unless we understand the human errors better.