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.



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