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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Stressing the Human Factor Behind Safety

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It has been a horrific week.

The crash landing on Saturday of a UTAir plane at the Samara airport, Monday's explosion at the Ulyanovskaya coal mine in Novokusnetsk, and the fire that swept through a retirement home in the Krasnodar region early Tuesday killed 177 people.

While it would be premature to assign blame before investigators announce their findings, the so-called human factor appears to have played a role in two of the cases.

Initial results from an inquiry into the cause of the crash in Samara indicate that the Tu-134 jet was coming in too fast, particularly given poor visibility as result of heavy fog. Six people died.

At the retirement home, no one paid attention to the fire alarm until it rang a third time -- almost 30 minutes after the fire broke out. The home also was understaffed. Sixty-three people died.

The mine blast that killed 108, however, appears to be the unfortunate consequence of working in one of the world's more dangerous professions. Miners might have unwittingly struck a pocket of methane gas, which then exploded. The mine opened in 2002 and contained modern, up-to-date safety systems.

If human error is to blame, the plane and the retirement home should serve as reminders of the widespread disregard shown to safety rules in this country. At the most simple level, this disregard is demonstrated by an aversion to wearing seatbelts, an affection for driving on sidewalks and a tradition of fishing on ice that is clearly unsafe. Disregard for safety is a contributor to the country's low -- and falling -- life expectancy rates; men live an average of 57 years. In a country where the demographic crisis is so often highlighted as a major concern, it is difficult to understand how so little regard can be paid to safeguarding and preserving human lives.

The point is that a plane can be loaded with the most sophisticated computer equipment and a retirement home can be equipped with all the necessary fire alarms, but the human factor remains vital. All it takes is a single act of negligence to put lives at risk. And when lives are lost as a result, this kind of negligence can only be called criminal.

If any good could come out of this horrific week, it would be if the tragedies served as a wake-up call to recognize just how responsible each of us is for safety.

Without such recognition, sadly, weeks like this are far too likely to happen.