You have just entered the Accident Zone! How’s your stuff?

You might well ask, “What do you mean by stuff”?  Good question.

In the context of this article, stuff refers to a part of our Error Prevention training where we discuss your mental and physical capacity to do your job at any given point in time.

Moreover, the more stuff you have at any moment, the more likely that you will do your job well and without making a mistake.

Something happens to all of us during the day.  Our stuff diminishes due to factors like fatigue, stress and lack of nourishment.

Consider this typical day and how our stuff is affected:

We awake after a good night’s sleep and our stuff is in pretty good shape.  We eat breakfast and increase our stuff.  We haven’t thought much about the tasks ahead, so our stuff stays high.  We could be successful doing just about any task at this point of the day.

And then things start happening.  We need to drop the kids off at school on our way to work and our daughter is running late.  We have an important meeting first thing in the morning, so we rush a little bit on the way to school and definitely on the way to work.  Stress is building, and our stuff is decreasing.  We are taking chances that we would normally not take.

As we go through the morning at work, tasks come and go, our nourishment is decreasing and so is our stuff.  We still have enough stuff to do our job well, but we need to increase it for the afternoon.  When we have lunch, we boost our stuff.

Then comes a surprise deadline on a task that of which you were unaware. This is on top of our other jobs, so our stress starts to increase significantly, and our stuff decreases rapidly.  We are in a situation where the tasks we need to get done require more stuff than we have.  We are in a Mistake/Accident Zone.

We somehow get through the Zone without incident and are pretty low on stuff when we drive home.  Perhaps the drive is pleasant and uneventful, so we relax a bit and our stuff increases. And we can handle the evening dinner and family activities just fine.

Our stuff fluctuates during the day.  It happens to all of us.

But remember that Mistake/Accident Zone?  That is a risky place to be.  It is where calculation, programming, executive planning, clerical, and sales mistakes are made.  It is where machinery breaks, products get produced incorrectly fires and explosions occur, people get injured or worse.

Wouldn’t it be good to check your stuff when you sense that you are entering the Mistake/accident Zone?  You can.

You can us a handy checklist that we call IMSAFE.

I = Illness

M= Medication

S= Stress

A= Alcohol/Drug

F = Fatigue

E = Eating or Emotion

If you’re well-rested, well-fed, and not taking any medication for a cold/flu, and you don’t experience any surprises, you’re probably going to navigate through the Mistake/Accident Zone pretty well.

On the other hand, if you are experiencing a bit of flu, taking medication containing alcohol, haven’t eaten well and didn’t sleep well, you better be extra cautious in the Zone.

If you use the IMSAFE checklist when you sense that your stuff is low, you might just avoid a serious mistake or accident.

So – again – How’s YOUR Stuff?

What if We Didn’t Have to Work with Other People?

No more time wasted in boring meetings!

No more listening to boring stories!

No disagreements!

We could just do, whatever…

For most working people that is not the reality.  We must learn to work effectively with our co-workers, management, contractors, vendors and many others through the course of a day.  Often, putting us in difficult or challenging circumstances that may cause tension, errors and even accidents.

That is where the Error Prevention Training Institute (EPTI) can help.

We have the world’s best human error prevention methodology, proven and validated by thousands of people, over decades and the WORLD’s leading organizations. Do you want to find out more about how it works?

We offer an online course that we recommend to all employees to create a common language and understanding of the Error Prevention methodology. We highly recommend pairing this with PIC and Executive training to gain buy in to the approach across the organization. That can be offered in multiple ways depending on the needs and preference of your organization.

We can help design a solution that works for you.  We have exciting new options on how to deliver our proven practices (mobile app, marketing material, onsite and online classes for the enterprise or individual learner, custom video, simulation development and many others.

We have an amazing 30 minute demo that provides an overview of the training and what it can mean for your organization.  We highly recommend that as a starting point for your teams to begin to work more effectively together while reducing errors, incidents and accidents.

Contact us today to schedule a web conference demonstration.


Learn from your mistakes… or repeat them?

Human Error Prevention behavior contributes maximum benefits to an organization when it becomes part of the organization’s culture.  That is, everyone uses the tools and lexicon of error prevention as part of their mode of operation.  In addition, in an error prevention culture, everyone shares stories about mistakes that happen or are avoided – without fear of negative reprisal – so that others can learn organically.

In order to achieve the ongoing success – and, hence, the benefits of error prevention behavior – it is important for executives, supervisors and employees to operate in a “Just Culture” environment.

What is a Just Culture?

  • One that supports the discussion of errors so that lessons can be learned from them.
  • One in which frontline staff feel comfortable in disclosing errors including their own while maintaining professional accountability.

It is a fundamental truth that good organizations cannot operate without accountability.  Does this notion of No Blame threaten this business truth of Accountability?

Well, no, the two are actually complementary.

Accountability typically involves examining the technical reasons for a success or mistake.  Often times this is called Root Cause analysis and is applied to examining why a mistake was made.  Root Cause analysis seeks to find that singular reason for a mistake or inefficiency so that corrective procedures or “things” can be applied in the future to avoid the same mistake or inefficiency.  Many times, the result is that a person is held accountable and is reprimanded or fired for making a mistake.

Accountability based on a singular cause rarely includes the notion that root causes might exist.  The additional causes just might be human factors that are not considered in most root cause analysis.

A No Blame culture simply means that, before coming to the conclusion to reprimand or fire an employee, human factors are examined too.  The conclusion might very well be that an employee loses their job, but at least the whole situation has been examined before that conclusion is reached.  But, a different more positive conclusion could be that the human factors that were in play provide an insight/reason that exonerates the employee and, indeed provides an opportunity for the company to learn what to do about a human factor situation in the future.

The following story perfectly illustrates how Accountability and No Blame work together.

Medication administration errors are a problem in hospitals.  One hospital established a policy – based on factors such as legal, insurance cost and hospital reputation – that, as the final person involved with administering medication, a nurse who administered the wrong medication was held accountable and was immediately terminated.

After the Chief Nursing Officer became aware of the No Blame approach, she began asking human factor questions before making a termination decision.  Soon enough, an administration error happened, and the RN was called into the Chief Nursing Officers office.

The RN fully expected to lose her job.

The CNO asked about the human factors and discovered that the RN’s were under extraordinary stress and were fatigued by working excessive hours with reduced staff.  The RN’s frequently missed meals due to their workloads so their decision making was jeopardized.

The CNO did not fire the RN but rather thanked her for being honest about her situation.  The CNO determined that the hospital needed to increase staff and be innovative about the work hours for the staff.

Medication administration errors went down, and nurse terminations were greatly reduced.

On can conclude that blending Accountability with No Blame is a powerful way to generate a culture that is more efficient and profitable.  With the added benefit that the organization does not lose valuable human assets unnecessarily.





Human Error Prevention – Should we train everyone?

Why is Error Prevention training necessary for everybody in the company?  The question is logical because Error Prevention is most easily seen as having a direct tie to Safety and Manufacturing – traditional touch labor – and not so much to departments such a Finance, Sales, IT and even Senior Staff.

Easily understood because errors in a Safety or Manufacturing context are visible and tangible.  Someone experiences an injury, or a product contains faults.

Safety and Manufacturing errors are investigated, tracked and reported; whereas errors in Finance, Sales, IT and Senior staff are not (usually).  Therefore, establishing justification and benefit analysis for error prevention initiatives is easier to do based on the empirical data available from EH & S and Manufacturing (Quality) operations.

And yet, all departments communicate with each other.  So if some departments speak and act with an error prevention language and behavior while others do not, communication is not optimal.

For example, Error Prevention training teaches that making a good assertive statement is necessary when one member of a team or group wants the rest of the team to stop and examine a potential error-likely situation before proceeding.  Most often, when an assertive statement is made properly, the group will take the time to examine the situation.  But, sometimes the group does not stop.  Yet the concerned person continues to feel very strongly that the group should.  At that point the concerned person uses a phrase meant to startle the group and convey strong feelings about potential error – a phrase such as “This is Stupid!”

In time, people who practice error prevention behavior come to expect assertive statements and know that they are good and productive triggers that lead to a quick method for examining a situation using error prevention tools.  Assertive statements are not offensive in an error prevention conversation.  The statements actually foster open discussion and either an error is prevented, or the process continues with confidence.

Imagine how a conversation goes between people who have had error prevention training and people who have not.  Imagine how an assertive statement would affect the person who was not trained.

One of two outcomes are likely.  The non-trained person hears the statement without error prevention context and reacts negatively or the trained person will not make the statement out of fear of negative reaction.  In either case, a productive conversation does not happen, and no error prevention takes place.

In most productive companies, effective interdepartmental communication is vital.  Most Senior Staff members want to communicate well with departments in order to make good executive decisions.  Error Prevention training for all departments contributes to effective interdepartmental communication and reduces costs associated with mistakes at the same time.

One can see also that Error Prevention behavior and conversations affect one’s personal life as well.  Imagine a conversation between spouses wherein only one spouse has learned error prevention.  How would the non-trained spouse react to hearing “This is Stupid”.  One would guess that the rest of the conversation would be off-topic.