Project Details Classification and modeling human errors contributing to measurement uncertainty of chemical analytical test results

Project No.:
Start Date:
01 December 2012
End Date:
01 October 2014
Division Name:
Analytical Chemistry Division
Division No.:


To develop: 1) a classification of human errors in analytical chemistry contributing to the measurement uncertainty, and 2) a method for modeling these errors in different laboratory environment.


The majority of measurements in chemistry are executed by technicians, which are not necessarily experts in metrology, quality and analytical chemistry. Modern measuring systems used in analytical laboratories have user-friendly interfaces and specific software for processing measurement signals, simplifying the execution of a measurement and analysis as a whole. Therefore, some users of these systems do not recognize the need of a critical attitude with respect to the instruments used, execution of the measurement, and interpretation of the final analytical result.

Depending on the application, basic knowledge is often required to perform measurements/analysis in an adequate manner. However, human activity is never free from errors. This is true especially in chemistry, where for example, unsuccessful analyte/measurand definition can lead to an erroneous choice of the measurement method; insufficient knowledge about a chromatographic column and the measurand properties can “compromise” the separation method; storage and use of a certified reference material in conditions other than required in the certificate increases uncertainty of the certified value; use of a mobile telephone during sample preparation, analysis, and/or calculations is a source of outliers; etc.

Reducing the error probability starts with the corresponding study and classification of the errors, education and training. There is an extensive literature today (including research reports and books) on understanding of a human error in aviation, engineering, healthcare and in accident analysis. However, in analytical chemistry (in the field of measurements in chemistry) there are only some single publications on the topic.

Current international guidelines for evaluation of measurement uncertainties in analytical chemistry avoided any discussion of human errors. In spite of that, there is a consensus concerning a contribution of human errors to the measurement uncertainty, which may be significant and, therefore, should be as minimum evaluated


> April 2013 update – As part of this project, a workshop was organized in conjunction with the ISRANALYTICA 2013 Conference and Exhibition, on 29 January 2013 in Tel Aviv, Israel <>. The Israel Analytical Chemistry Society and CITAC took part in organizing the workshop. The event was sponsored by Israel Laboratory Accreditation Authority and SIGMA-ALDRICH Corporation, and arranged by Bioforum Ltd.

A report on this workshop appeared in Chem Int May-June 2013 (p. 30) and simultaneously in Reference Materials (Russia).

> December 2013 update – The task group has contributed to two recent articles pertinent to this project:

  • Human errors and reliability of test results in analytical chemistry, published in Accreditation and Quality Assurance, February 2013, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 3-9; This paper was presented at the 19th International Conference of the Israel Society for Quality, October 2012, Jerusalem, Israel.
  • House-of-security approach to measurement in analytical chemistry: quantification of human error using expert judgments, published in Accreditation and Quality Assurance, December 2013, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 459-467;

> January 2014 update – The International Workshop on Human Errors and Quality of Chemical Analytical Results will be organized in conjunction with Isranalytica conference and exhibition, 14-15 Jan 2015, Tel Aviv, Israel (, one of the largest events in the field of analytical chemistry in the world (above 3000 participants every year). It is expected that the workshop will draw attention of analysts, quality and metrology specialists working in analytical laboratories to the topic of human errors in chemical analysis and will contribute to this project.

> October 2014 – This project continues as project 2014-027-1-500.

Last updated 8 December 2014