Alexander Pope famously said, “To err is human.” Hundreds of years later, not much has changed. People make mistakes. People will always make mistakes, and that includes your most well-meaning employees.
While mistakes are inevitable, they come with their fair share of complications. For instance, 90% of workplace accidents — a substantial amount of them involving injury or injuries — can be attributed to human error.
Preventing all mistakes is an unattainable goal. Significantly reducing human errors, on the other hand, is more than reasonable. Here are some key strategies to mitigate mistakes and human errors in the workplace.
1. Educate Yourself
One of the first steps to preventing errors is gathering knowledge. Why do mistakes occur? What factors increase the likelihood of human errors? What are the different types of human error? Knowing all of these things can help you ultimately prevent and greatly reduce mistakes in the workplace.
First, take a cold, hard look at contributing factors. Many of them may be difficult for employers to hear. Things like lack of motivation, lack of employee engagement, and unrealistic expectations heavily weigh on employees and ultimately lead to human error. Just how prevalent are these problems? A shocking 80% of workers believe they have too much work on their plate and that it would be fairer to split their responsibilities among multiple employees.
Jan Watcher, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania safety sciences professor, studies these common problems among employees. He is currently testing a hypothesis that states that accidents resulting from human error may be reduced by as much as 20% with interventions to increase employee engagement and motivation, according to Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) Today. Of course, employers cannot begin these interventions if they do not discover and acknowledge that motivation is a problem in the first place.
Another important thing to know is the types of human error. According to Denmark professor Jens Rasmussen’s model of human error, mistakes can be broken down into three categories: Skill, Rule, and Knowledge (SRK). Skill-based errors occur when an employee does not execute a task correctly. Rule-based errors result from applying the wrong rules or training to a particular problem or project. Knowledge-based errors occur when a worker does not know enough or possesses incomplete or inadequate knowledge to perform any given task.
2. Invest In Training
Detailed training is one of the most effective human error reduction tools. Training and training tools, like regulatory compliance courses, directly address employee knowledge and experience. Thorough training bridges any knowledge or experiential gaps employees may have, and it ensures employees are on the same page.
Without detailed training and regulatory compliance courses, employees are forced to improvise and apply what knowledge and experience they already have. Your employees come from a wide range of backgrounds and life experiences. In other words, while this may work out in some circumstances, it will not work out all of the time — and, in many cases, increased training and communication can prevent errors and slip-ups before they happen.
3. Review Critical Safety Practices Often and Thoroughly
Finally, initial training is not enough. Ideally, your employees will stick around. Even the best employees may have lapses in memory. Regulatory compliance courses or yearly training modules reassert employee knowledge and skills. According to Dartmouth University, “Spaced repetition promotes efficient and effective learning.” Reduce human errors by giving your employees important tools to increase their knowledge, experience, and skillsets. Regular training and modules do just that. Take the time to train employees, update and reeducate employees should procedures or policies change, and make a point of doing these things at least once a year. Remember, additional training and refresher courses benefit new and tenured employees alike.
Human error does not occur in a vacuum — and that’s good news! That means you can do something about it. Drastically reduce instances of human error by gathering relevant information about your business and employees, investing in thorough training, and using regulatory compliance courses and modules over time to refresh employee knowledge and skills.