Exploring and Preventing Human Error
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INDUSTRIAL ENGINEER – VOLUME 47: NUMBER 02
By Michael Topf
Various human errors have been recorded as the cause of many accidents that results in major casualties. Understanding this, there has to be a way to significantly reduce human error. In the vastly growing competitive environment that is the 21st century, workers should understand that each of them is expected to be responsible for both their own performance and their peers’. To make it work, there has to be systems that support them as both individuals and team members.
Communication is vital in reducing error. A common cause of error in a field work is repeating instruction without understanding it first. This could lead to a number of potential incidents due to human error. Stress also plays a major role in distracting workers. Stress may come from emotional distress regarding employment status or personal problems. Too much stress will result in more error at work. To create a n error-free environment, there are things to improve: self-management, team support, leadership supervisory and labor level, and organizational level. It is important to teach workers how to interact with the environment.
Inattention or lack of focus is the primary cause of communication errors and misinterpretations. This may happen because workers are daydreaming, stress, or distracted during work. Another factor is conscious or pre-meditated behaviors. Workers talk themselves into taking shortcuts to get their job done faster. Another factor includes putting insufficiently trained personnel in a work that require experience and expertise they do not possess. In management, using traditional means of statistical tracking of errors and incidents is not enough because they do not measure levels of awareness or behaviors.
To create an error-free environment, a holistic and integrated approach must be employed. Everybody must learn to “think excellence” and develop related skills to prevent errors that can be transferred from one environment or task to another. This can be started by raising people’s awareness. Next, examine the core beliefs and attitudes that shape decisions in individuals and groups.