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Reducing the systemic risks of human error

noshcon_logoDisciplinary action is used to punish those who make choices that are incongruent with acceptable norms and to warn others not to follow the same path. Many leaders do not know what else to do.

However, discipline has limited success because most workplace errors are not intentional – they are caused by gaps in attention, knowledge, skills or procedures. when an investigation focuses on finding the person who committed the error, the solution will likely focus on disciplinary action. This will have negligible long term impact on the error rate. Instead, it will lead to increased risk that future errors will be committed. It will also encourage people to cover up errors.

Conversely, by proving people with a more robust way to identify conditional causes, solutions will more likely be identified that fix the problem permanently and reduce risk. When discipline is taken off the table, the result is greater participation by those who have direct knowledge of the error.

From a keynote speech delivered by David Tooth, Managing Director at Sologic Europe, to the NOSA Annual Occupational Risk Management Conference in South Africa.

 

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