Jens Rasmussen (human factors expert)

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Jens Rasmussen
Born11 May 1926
Ribe, Denmark
Died5 February 2018
Known fordynamic safety model, risk management framework, skill-rule-knowledge model, abstraction hierarchy, ecological interface design, AcciMaps
Scientific career
Fieldssafety science
InfluencedRichard Cook, Sidney Dekker, Erik Hollnagel, Nancy Leveson, James Reason, Kim Vicente, David Woods

Jens Rasmussen (11 May 1926 – 5 February 2018) was a system safety, human factors and cognitive systems engineering researcher at the Risø National Laboratory in Risø, Denmark. He was highly influential within the field of safety science, human error and accident research. His contributions include the skills, rules, knowledge (SRK) framework, risk management framework, dynamic safety model, AcciMap Approach, and others.


Rasmussen was born in Ribe, Denmark. In 1950, he earned an M.Sc. degree in electronic engineering,[1] with a background in control engineering.[2] After completing his degree, he worked for several years at the Radio Receiver Research Laboratory.[1]

In 1956, Rasmussen was recruited to work at the Danish Atomic Energy Commission. After several years, he was named the head of the Electronics Department at the Atomic Research Establishment Risø (eventually renamed Risø National Laboratory).[1]

In 1981, Rasmussen was appointed Research Professor at both the Technical University of Denmark and at Risø National Laboratory.[1]


Dynamic safety model[edit]

Rasmussen proposed a state-based model of a socio-technical system as a system that moves within a region of a state space.[3] The region is surrounded by three boundaries:

  • economic failure
  • unacceptable work load
  • functionality acceptable performance

Incentives push the system towards the boundary of acceptable performance: accidents happen when the boundary is exceeded.

Risk management framework[edit]

Rasmussen proposed a multi-layer view of socio-technical systems, with hazardous processes and work at the lowest level, and government at the highest level.[3] The different levels involve different research disciplines (e.g., mechanical, chemical, and electrical engineering at the lowest level, political science, la, economics, and sociology at the highest level, and other domains in-between) and different environmental stressors (e.g., changing political climate at the top level, fast pace of technological change at the lowest level)

Skills, rules, knowledge (SRK) framework[edit]

See Skills, Rules, Knowledge (SRK) framework.

Abstraction hierarchy[edit]

See the abstraction hierarchy.

Ecological interface design[edit]

See Ecological interface design.


See AcciMap approach.

Selected publications[edit]


  • Jens Rasmussen, Annelise M. Pejtersen, L.P.Goodstein (1994). Cognitive Systems Engineering. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0471011983.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Jens Rasmussen (1986). Information processing and human-machine interaction: an approach to cognitive engineering. North-Holland. ISBN 9780444009876.
  • Jens Rasmussen (2000). Proactive Risk Management in a Dynamic Society. Swedish Rescue Services Agency. ISBN 9172530847.



  1. ^ a b c d Waterson, Patrick; Le Coze, Jean-Christophe; Andersen, Henning Boje (March 2017). "Recurring themes in the legacy of Jens Rasmussen". Applied Ergonomics. 59 (Pt B): 471–482. doi:10.1016/j.apergo.2016.10.002. PMID 27765154. S2CID 29824909.
  2. ^ Flach, John (2020). A meaning processing approach to cognition : what matters?. Fred Voorhorst. New York, NY. ISBN 978-0-367-40428-4. OCLC 1117930294.
  3. ^ a b Rasmussen, Jens (November 1997). "Risk management in a dynamic society: a modelling problem". Safety Science. 27 (2–3): 183–213. doi:10.1016/S0925-7535(97)00052-0. S2CID 54965024.

The Legacy of Jens Rasmussen, special issue of Applied Ergonomics, Volume 59, Part, B, Pages 471-656 (March 2017)

The Legacy of Jens Rasmussen, Adjunct ODAM 2014 Symposium