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Business Process Improvement

Causes of human error are many and varied so it requires a range of ideas to be tailored to any particular organisation and solutions implemented accordingly.

Tasks

• Use task analysis to design tasks with those involved in undertaking the task with a view of creating ‘ownership’, involve staff/operators in task design

• Develop clear and simple requirements and instructions

• Proportionate to the risks of inaccurate output, develop training material from the requirements and instructions

• Train individuals or teams in the high risk tasks identified, ensuring an understanding of consequences of poor or inaccurate quality and the value of ‘getting it right first time, every time’

• Always assign tasks to individuals with the appropriate competency set and available time to undertake the task

• Try to make tasks interesting and vary, swap or rotate tasks wherever possible and without introducing further error

• Ensure task metrics and goals/objectives are ‘fit for purpose’

• Ensure tasks are clearly seen as adding value, show how task fits into the bigger picture of delivering product or service to customer

• When changing tasks involve those undertaking the task, ensure clarity of change and provide training in the change where appropriate

• When appropriate use flexible working hours or job sharing to address repetitive or boring work and provide adequate rest periods and appropriate facilities

• Carry out facilities and equipment reviews, toolbox meetings, etc

• Use error proofing (Poka Yoke) techniques or automation of tasks


Communication

• Ensure clear and, as appropriate, transparent paths of communication between all levels of the organisation – vertical communication

• Ensure clear and, as appropriate, transparent paths of communication along all processes – horizontal communication

• Ensure that communication is a 2-way process of transmitting and listening

• For multi-lingual teams ensure there is an adequate level of communication and, if necessary, provide language courses for personnel


Resources

• Provide appropriate and properly maintained resources easily accessible at place of work, taking into consideration ‘authorisation to use’

• Allocate resources (human and facilities) on the basis of a robust risk assessment to ensure areas of high risk receive adequate resources


Work environment and organisational culture

• Create a positive organisational ‘learning’ culture in which people are:

- encouraged to take pride in their work and ownership of their outputs

- not afraid to be ill

- not afraid to question the status quo and activities that cause waste

- not afraid to question their suitability or competency to undertake a task

- not afraid to question the time they have been allocated to undertake a task

- encouraged to come up with ideas to improve or prevent failure

- encouraged to work safely and to maintain a safe working environment

- rewarded and recognised when their ideas are implemented

- aware of the consequences of inaccurate output from their task

- respectful of each others time, responsibilities and capability

- aware of the need to meet customer requirements

- part of the organisation and feel included

- aware of the need to ensure that mistakes never happen twice

- involved in developing shared values that support a learning culture

• Consider using an internal confidential complaints or incident reporting and analysis system (CIRAS)

• Provide appropriate and properly maintained environment, e.g. check heat, light, noise, cleanliness, equipment, IT, etc on a regular basis and ensure that all regulatory requirements are being met. Keep mobile phones on silent profile

• Consider using the ‘5 S’ to maintain an attractive workplace

• Where necessary provide recreational areas and facilities to enable staff to take breaks when undertaking repetitive or boring work

• Ensure that workplace environment complies with regulations


Team

• Undertake team meetings to discuss quality and improvement issues (quality circles, tool box, lunch and learn meetings), provide ‘fun’ events and/or teambuilding activities for team

• Foster respect between colleagues; develop team values/value sets

• Ensure a correct balance in teams (e.g. between thinkers, doers, communicators..)


Work planning

• Use an effective work planning process that sets clear goals/targets/objectives, indicates priorities and monitors performance

• Maintain effective competency matrices

• Train managers, supervisors and staff/operators in ‘time management’ and how to manage staff/operator absence, if appropriate build in regular breaks from work

• Consider the use of home working and/or ‘hot desking’ and review commute distances and times


Supervision / management support

• Train supervisors and managers to undertake effective appraisals and set realistic tasks with input and buy-in from subordinates

• Train supervisors and managers to create effective subordinates’ ‘personal development plans’ and associated annual training schedules

• Carry out career review/planning and provide structured career paths when possible

• Consider employee ‘share schemes’ or ‘save as you earn share schemes’ to encourage a feeling of ownership

• Train managers in effective leadership, management and supervision techniques, e.g. to identify personal issues, conflict within team, etc early and prevent

• Train supervisors in effective supervision techniques, i.e. how to support their subordinates, monitor performance and give effective positive and negative feedback, provide counselling and mentoring – encourage managers and supervisors to say ‘thank you’

• Undertake regular 1-2-1 meetings; 360° feedback open meetings

• Train managers and supervisors to be able to accept critical feedback

• Train managers and supervisors to be able to spot initial evidence of bullying; provide clear and transparent process to prevent bullying develop in workplace and counselling or confidential care line when needed

• Monitor subordinates commuting arrangements; ensure they are not excessive


Person selection

• Use an effective recruitment process, identify gaps and knowledge, skills and experience and plan to close these gaps offer good terms and conditions

• Always assign tasks to individuals with the appropriate competency set and available time to undertake the task (from Tasks above)

• Provide adequate motivation, reward and recognition for the task being undertaken

• Ensure that we have the right person for the job; recognition of diversity of personality


Personal mental, physical and emotional condition

• Create an organisational culture that accepts individuals may suffer from personal mental, physical and emotional conditions and provides early support

• Train managers in effective management and supervision techniques, e.g. to identify personal issues, conflict within team, etc early and prevent

• Train supervisors in effective supervision techniques, e.g. to identify personal issues, conflict within team, etc early and prevent

• Provide all individuals with clear roles and responsibilities

• Provide regular medical checks for staff and encourage healthy living; use health and wellbeing initiatives to promote a healthy lifestyle


Training

• Use a robust process to identify and provide the on-going training needs of individuals and their continuing personal development

• Use a robust process to measure the effectiveness of training

• Ensure the adequacy of the training budget

• Make effective use of on-the-job training

• Ensure that lessons learned are cascaded to all staff who need to know


Not classified as human error

• Use a clear transparent disciplinary process to avoid violation, sabotage and deliberate non-compliance with procedure


Ideas to reduce the incidence of human error