July 5, 2023 | Mark Paradies

Stop Being Overwhelmed!

Root Cause Analysis Overload

Many companies assign incident investigations (and root cause analysis) IN ADDITION TO duties that supervisors, engineers, or managers already have.

The result?

The investigator is overwhelmed. The investigator can’t do a high-quality investigation AND their normal work at the same time.

Story from a TapRooT® Class

Several engineers from an oil company were complaining about being sent to TapRooT® Training. I asked them what was wrong (thinking they were unhappy with the class). They said that the class was great. The problem was that when they got back to work, they would be assigned investigations to complete.

One of the engineers (they were all in their late 20s) said he was evaluated on his work. He had to complete his projects on time. When he was assigned an investigation, nothing was removed from his plate. He had to keep on schedule with the projects AND do the investigation too. He explained:

“All this means is that I will have to work
nights and weekends just to keep up.”

He could see that he would be overwhelmed – overloaded – because he could now find the root causes of incidents. And the better job he did, the more likely they were to give him even more investigations to do.

How To Stop Being Overwhelmed

What can you do to stop your people from being overwhelmed? Here are four ideas…

1. Consider Assigning investigations as Projects.

If engineers (or others) are assigned investigations, assign them as projects that are considered when assigning the engineer’s workload. This may require other projects to have their due dates moved back or transfer one or more of that engineer’s projects to another engineer.

For supervisors, you may bring in a relief supervisor to give the supervisor assigned to do the investigation the time they need.

For managers, once again, consider moving some of their workload to others or delaying the due dates for some of that work.

Remember – you can’t get something for nothing. If you just assign more work, something will slip somewhere, or eventually, the employee may burn out.

2. Have People Whose Main Job is Doing Investigations.

You may create a group whose main job is performing investigations. There are advantages and disadvantages to this (perhaps a topic for another article), but it will keep others from becoming overwhelmed.

3. Use the Techniques in Using the Essential TapRooT® Techniques to Investigate Low-to-Medium Risk Incident Book for Most Investigations and Save Investigator Time.

Book 3

One of the best ways to reduce the burden of investigations is to STOP investigating things that don’t need to be investigated and to use simple techniques to investigate simple incidents. That’s what Using the Essential TapRooT® Techniques to Investigate Low-to-Medium Risk Incident book is all about. And that’s what we teach in our 2-Day TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Course.

This won’t completely remove the burden, but it will reduce the burden.

4. Hire Some Help (a Facilitator)

Yes! We can help by providing you with a facilitator to help with investigations – either part-time or full-time – to supplement your staff. These experienced TapRooT® Instructors can help you get to the bottom of problems by helping your staff be more efficient when performing a root cause analysis. Call one of our TapRooT® Implementation Advisors at 865-539-2139 to find out more.

TapRooT® Implementation Advisors


Four ideas to stop your investigators from being overwhelmed.

Do you have more ideas? Leave your best ideas in a comment below!

Root Cause Analysis Tips
Show Comments

2 Replies to “Stop Being Overwhelmed!”

  • Mark Paradies says:

    Ideas anyone?

    • Fred Freiberger says:

      Your Submarine Service is a perfect ‘job description’ example. Betcha your nuke job outline included “other tasks, as assigned…” Every job & management slot I faced in a great 60 year ‘safety related’. career, sure did.
      Best Wishes – Fred F. Tap-Root Alum.-

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