Category Archives: Risk

Tony Muschara’s new book: “Risk-Based Thinking: Managing the Uncertainty of Human Error in Operations”

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Sometimes we need to be a cheerleader for the people whom have positive impacts on our lives. This post is a way of showing my appreciation for an important (and very humble) leader in my field. Have you ever had someone be your trainer, a mentor and a friend all rolled into one, and then they create a book in your field of practice? We are all fortunate that finally, Tony has done just that. Tony was my first Human Performance trainer back in the 1990s – he came to the nuclear plant where I was working and I finagled myself into his INPO Human Performance Fundamentals class and I was permanently hooked – like what David Copperfield does for magicians! He has a way of taking esoteric concepts or thought models and making them real. As an industry leader and voice, Tony has directly impacted hundreds of people that have made HU/HP their livelihood. He has also directly influenced thousands of management and field workers in different industries, and also continues to passively influence others through materials he helped create many years ago. I can’t imagine the amount of people world-wide he has indirectly influenced! Ever seen the INPO precursor chart? Guess who helped put that together – even the 1997 INPO Human Performance booklet which changed my perspective on behavior and leadership? Tony has been instrumental in creating this field (and many of its first INPO publications) into what it continues to become today – my ears are open to whatever he has to say. I love this guy and trust his advice, and I’m looking forward to our next dinner together. If you’ve never met him, or seen him speak, he’s a regular on the HU Conference touring circuit and I highly encourage you to go see him!

One of the finest pieces of advice he ever gave me

I was working at a mid-west nuclear plant as their HU Program lead, and he was there helping our team work on a root cause. He would visit me on his breaks and we would discuss how things are going, my thoughts and actions, what’s working and not, etc. In one of these visits he asked me who my customer was. I thought this one was easy – “Operations and the front line” – these are the people whom touch the plant…. Nope! Think again… “Okay – the front line supervisors?” Nope, but you’re getting closer! “The Managers?” YES!

The lesson he was trying to teach me on this occasion was about influence – even though the end goal is to influence front line workers, that’s not the HU Lead’s job! If you form strong relationships with your 10-30 managers at your site, and you can influence them, guess what – they influence their leadership team, whom influence the front line workers – let the hierarchy work, and involve leadership in all of your efforts, so they can be on board and support the effort with any necessary resources.

In that ten minute conversation Tony rocked my perspective, and if you give him a chance, I’m sure this book will do that for you, too.

Getting to know Tony

Tony Muschara is the Principal Consultant at Muschara Error Management Consulting, LLC, specializing in human error risk management in high-hazard, industrialized environments, and is a Certified Performance Technologist (CPT), awarded by the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI). Tony became a nuclear plant simulator instructor at Farley Nuclear Plant (1983-1985) and then joined the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (1985-2007) where he authored several human performance guidelines for the nuclear industry. Many of his documents were adopted by the U.S. DOE and the World Association of Nuclear Operators. Tony received a BS degree in general (mechanical) engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy; served in the U.S. Submarine Service (1975-1982); Qualified in Submarines; qualified as Engineer of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Systems; retired as Captain, USNR. Tony also received an MBA from Kennesaw State University.

Mission: To help managers and leaders of high-hazard operations protect people, product, and property from the human element by providing them with risk-based error management principles and applications, developed from leading-edge research and hands-on experience, while honoring God and others through Wisdom, Integrity, and Love.

Tony specializes in human error management, a risk-based approach to managing human risk. Tony has served on nuclear industry working groups associated with human performance (Electric Power Research Institute – EPRI and Nuclear Energy Institute – NEI), and he has presented papers at several industry meetings including several IEEE conferences on human factors and power plants.

Specialties: An active member of the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), Tony is a certified performance technologist (CPT). Also, Tony certified as a senior reactor operator instructor in 1983, while an operations simulator instructor at Farley Nuclear Plant near Dothan, Alabama.

About the book “Risk-Based Thinking – Managing the Uncertainty of Human Error in Operations”

Society at large tends to misunderstand what safety is all about. It is not just the absence of harm. When nothing bad happens over a period of time, how do you know you are safe? In reality, safety is what you and your people do moment by moment, day by day to protect assets from harm and to control the hazards inherent in your operations. This is the purpose of Risk-Based Thinking, the key element of the six building blocks of Human and Organizational Performance (HOP).

Generally, HOP provides a risk-based approach to managing human performance in operations. But, specifically, Risk-Based Thinking enables foresight and flexibility―even when surprised―to do what is necessary to protect assets from harm but also achieve mission success despite ongoing stresses or shocks to the operation. Although you cannot prepare for every adverse scenario, you can be ready for almost anything. When Risk-Based Thinking is integrated into the DNA of an organization’s way of doing business, people will be ready for most unexpected situations. Eventually, safety becomes a core value, not a priority to be negotiated with others depending on circumstances.

This book provides a coherent perspective on what executives and line managers within operational environments need to focus on to efficiently and effectively control, learn, and adapt.

Book Chapters
  1. A Nuclear Professional
  2. A Strategic Approach
  3. Fundamentals of Human and Organizational Performance
  4. Risk-Based Thinking and Chronic Uneasiness
  5. Critical Steps
  6. Systems Thinking for H&OP
  7. Systems Learning
  8. Managing Human Performance
  9. Integrating and Executing H&OP and Risk-Based Thinking
Getting the book:

The book, “Risk-Based Thinking: managing the uncertainty of human error in operations,” is  available directly for pre-order from Routledge or if you’re an Amazon lover click here to pre-order. The book is scheduled to be published in November.

Extra Learning with Tony:

The Preaccident Podcast with Todd Conklin

Resources for this post were gathered from Tony’s LinkedIn account, Amazon and from the Routledge website.


Our goal is to connect progressive thinkers to all things related to human error management and event prevention for individuals and organizations that prioritize reliability.