First of all, we are all humans, and humans aren’t perfect. We often hear that the cause of an accident was “human error.” After investigation, that may be found to be true. But there is a correlation between the workplace environment and the human that is employed there. We know that businesses must comply with government regulations and standards of safety and health for their employees.
It would seem that the starting point of avoiding human error is to establish strong policies and procedures. Beginning with human resources personnel, who pass on valuable information to new employees, and following through with training, management, good communication, and the design of a workplace that leads to safety – are all factors that will ensure that people work successfully.
I can truthfully admit that as a new employee, with early-on training, I still didn’t understand fully about my new job. It takes time and practice to really catch on. Maybe some are faster learners that I was, but I know that when there’s too much information to absorb, it’s easy to make errors. I did clerical work, and there’s certainly room for error there. Think about someone who does data entry all day long, and may miss just one digit on the keyboard, causing costly errors. (Remember the computer glitch that caused the Stock Exchange to seemingly tank not too long ago?) Between 70% and 90% of workplace errors are attributed to “human error”, but it may be due to a mismatch between the plan of the systems with which they may be required to work and the way they think and work.
If a company assures their employees that they want an employee to report a mistake they made, in order to ensure safety, without reprimanded, those workers will be more likely to do so. Many times workers are under peer pressure, or demands of their supervisors to complete a job hurriedly; or they may be placed in a work environment that is not conducive to safety. The blame does not fall on the employee under these conditions. For example, if their job requires charting or reading meters, and the lighting isn’t adequate, whose fault is it when the readings are incorrect?
Companies must have a strong safety committee that enforces compliance with safety rules. If employees know that part of their job evaluation is based on their compliance with safety rules and wearing the Personal Protective Equipment they are required to wear, they may be more vigilant to avoid making mistakes. Continued safety training and repeated training is important to the success of any employer. Another key to good safety practice is to have some type of reward for employees who recognize and report a potential hazard. If employers could rotate the repetitive and boring types of responsibilities among several persons, by giving them different tasks, a safer workplace could be established. Posters always play a valuable role in reminding workers to stay alert.
As stated earlier, there will always be “human errors.” Some of those errors have proved to be very devastating to individuals and families, such as airline crashes or medical errors. These are usually the ones that are reported to the public. But small mistakes or big ones will continue being made. Every single person needs to be more aware of the consequences of their mistakes, and do the very best they can do.