August 21, 2023 | Mark Paradies

What Are the Human Error Traps & Precursors?

Error Traps and Precursors

Human Error Traps & Precursors

Have you seen someone trapped into making a human error?

Bad human engineering can cause an error likely situation. Could we develop a list of human error precursors and do something to stop the error?

After I finished studying Human Factors as part of getting a Master’s Degree in Nuclear Engineering with an emphasis on Human Engineering, I went to work for a well-known chemical company that was a leader in safety to help them improve human performance and process safety. We had a discussion about things that could cause people to be more error-prone. My boss asked me if I could come up with a list of potential root causes of human errors. I worked on this, and it eventually became a precursor to the TapRooT® Root Cause Tree® Diagram.

The question came up … Could we train people on this list of causes, and could workers spot them and prevent errors? My answer then was … “No.”

However, about a decade later, the nuclear industry developed a Human Performance Tool called “Error Traps and Precursors” that was somewhat similar to the technique that I had decided wasn’t practical.

Let’s look a little more at this nuclear industry tool and see what you think about it…

Error Traps

The list below of error traps and precursors (two slides from the Stopping Human Error Course) was developed from industry sources and is taught in the Stopping Human Error Course

error traps
and precursors

That’s quite a list! But I have an addition…

Qustioning Attitude

What do they recommend when someone detects an error trap or precursor? They should:

  • Stop
  • Decide which error-reduction technique to apply
  • Apply one or more of the techniques
  • Continue with the work

Does This Technique Work?

You know what I originally thought (“No!”). What do I think now? Find out in the  2-Day Stopping Human Error Course. This course is being held on October 4-5 in Knoxville, TN.

Register for the course by clicking on the button below…

Don’t miss the course f you need to improve human performance and stop human errors.

Courses & Training, Human Performance
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