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Autor:  PPAULO
E-mail:  não-disponível
Data:  15/JAN/2015 11:11 AM
Assunto:  Down to
 
Mensagem:  "Mistakes happen - although many don’t need to happen - and they’re not always down to human error."

To my thinking in this context they may be interchangeable, however "error" has a more general ring to me. 

Plus, "a human error" would be a more trivial thing, but it can lead to serious consequences as well, if there´s a domino effect for example. A mistake is a more serious/important one.



http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/human+error
The propensity for certain common mistakes by people; the making
of an error as a natural result of being human.   
In the above sentence you can sense a grading of seriousness, "the making of error as a natural result of being human.", wich hints that errors are way more common (day-to-day) than mistakes.



AND
As for the "result of being human".  

Not for being human in itself, but for being subject to tiredness, sleepiness, hunger, not apt for bearing repetitive tasks for much time without losing focus, etc.

http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=391025


Sometimes they can be interchangeable, though.


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 English Made in Brazil -- English, Portuguese, & contrastive linguistics
Down to  –  Intruder  13/JAN/2015, 2:51 PM
 Down to  –  PPAULO  15/JAN/2015, 11:11 AM

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