July 20, 2023 | Mark Paradies

Top 10 Wrong Ways to Stop Human Error


Do You Have a Plan to Reduce Human Error?


When you calculate how much human error costs your company, you may want to do more than just forgive those that make errors. You may want to find and fix the root causes of human errors. You may even want to become proactive and stop errors before they happen. You may want to develop a plan to reduce human error.

How do you develop a plan to reduce human error?

FIRST, you need to understand why people make mistakes. The science of human factors that helps determine the likelihood of making a mistake. The Safeguards you can put in place to stop or reduce human error. And the ways to analyze human errors to find their root causes (the TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis System).

SECOND, you need to put this knowledge to work to develop a plan (a program) to improve human performance and, perhaps when you get good enough, to stop human error from causing major accidents (costly mistakes).

But many people start off with the wrong plan to stop human error. Why is it wrong? Read on for the 10 common practices that often are included in these “wrong” plans.

The Top 10 Wrong Ways to Stop Human Error

human error

Many people embark on the wrong ways to stop human error. These wrong ways include some of these ten practices:

  1. Punish people for making mistakes (make an example of them).
  2. Retrain people when they make a mistake.
  3. Tell people to try harder not to make mistakes.
  4. If they make a mistake after being told not to, tell them to be more careful.
  5. Put up signs with slogans to remind people to be careful.
  6. Write a detailed procedure that any fool could follow, then hire fools and punish them when they don’t follow the procedure.
  7. Train people when they are likely to make an error and tell them to be careful not to make errors.
  8. Train people when errors are likely, give them dozens of error prevention tools, and tell them to monitor their performance and use the right tool when they are just about to make an error.
  9. Don’t call mistakes an error. Instead, invent a different term. Now you don’t have errors!
  10. Provide a financial reward for error reduction and take the reward away from everyone if an error is reported.

You may laugh when you read the list above. We don’t think the list is all that funny. Why? Because we have seen too many people using one or more of these techniques to try to improve human performance. We’ve heard people say:

“If only people would try harder.”

“If only people would be more careful.”

“If only they would follow the procedure, they would not make a mistake!”

“They should have spotted the hazard and implemented a better control.”

If trying harder isn’t the answer, what is? Read on for some suggestions and ways to learn to stop human error.

Stopping Human Error

There are human factors principles that can be applied to greatly reduce or stop human error. I started learning these principles in the human factors program at the University of Illinois while I was getting a master’s degree. I practiced these principles while working for Du Pont and then developed a process, and then started my own company that developed a set of tools to analyze human error and develop effective fixes to stop repeat incidents (the TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis System).

After using and teaching this system for nearly 30 years, I decided there had to be something more. A way to teach people to proactively prevent human errors. A way for companies to STOP human errors before accidents happen.

I started thinking this was even more important to do now when I saw people who had no formal human factors training or certification in ergonomics or human factors (I’m a Certified Professional Ergonomist—Certificate #85), and they were teaching people to use techniques to improve human performance that violated basic human factors principles.

So, I wrote a book about it (Stopping Human Error) and worked with others at System Improvements to develop a course teaching effective methods to improve human performance and prevent human errors (the Stopping Human Error Course).

Mark Teaching Stopping Human Error

We’ve taught several of these courses, and they have received excellent reviews. And after every course, we used the feedback to make the next one even better.

When is the next course? CLICK HERE to find out.

This is an active, quick-moving two-day course with many exercises to try the techniques. You will leave this course with a clear understanding of methods to improve human performance and a custom plan to apply the methods best suited to your company to achieve gains in safety, quality, or operational and maintenance performance (all of which depend on human performance).

Here is an episode of TapRooT® TV from 2019 where I talk about the Stopping Human Error Course (And the 2020 Summit, where the first course was held. Skip the Summit section to reduce the video time.

Course participants receive the book Stopping Human Error, a $99.95 value, as part of the course materials. In addition, participants receive a certificate of completion and a 90-day subscription to TapRooT® VI Software, our dynamic cloud-based software that computerizes the TapRooT® Techniques.

Register for the Stopping Human Course

Don’t miss this opportunity to develop a plan to improve human performance (stop human error) at your company. Register for a course in now.

Alex Paradies - Stopping Human Error Course
Courses & Training, Human Performance
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