ABS Consulting

Implementing a work-situation approach to improve performance

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Courtesy of ABS Consulting

Human errors have been significant factors in almost every accident, equipment shutdown or quality problem in industrial and manufacturing facilities. The lack of an established management system is the cause of most human errors. Facilities must investigate and analyze near incidents (or near misses) so that root causes are determined and corrective actions are implemented to prevent recurrence. When contemplating ways to improve human performance, managers must address two basic types of errors — those for which primary causal factors are individual human characteristics unrelated to the work situation and those for which the primary causal factors are related to the design of the work situation.

Employing appropriate hiring and job assignment policies is an important means for managers to reduce the causes of internal human characteristics error. But a competent worker could still be emotionally upset or fatigued and commit an error.

The vast majority of human errors result primarily from the design of the work situation, which managers can directly control. By providing the resources necessary to identify and eliminate error-likely situations, managers can reduce the frequency of human errors. This strategy is called the work-situation approach. To maximize the benefits of such a strategy, managers should solicit workers’ input into this strategy at every opportunity.

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