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Reducing the chances of human error in the workplace

Mistakes are common, even in this modern day. Companies can take advantage of technological improvements, increasing day-to-day accessibility for employees and harnessing other tools designed to make life easier for the modern person. However, human error can still lead to mistakes, no matter the safeguards put in place to prevent them. Sometimes, these mistakes are negligible. Other times, they can be dangerous, and even life-threatening.

When it comes to reducing the risk of human error in the workplace, there are a myriad of ways your company can be proactive, not only in addressing potential mistakes, but in training employees to be aware of and to address issues as they appear. With everyone diligently keeping an eye out for potential risks and knowing how to avoid them, injury can be better avoided in the long term.

A person dressed in business attire holds out a hard hat that has the words “safety first” written on it.

Cluttered workspace

Not only do cluttered, confined workspaces lead to a potentially more stressful and distracting environment, but they can also lead to tripping hazards. Especially in high-traffic areas, clutter may result in preventable injuries.

For employees navigating a tight space, better organization practices can make a night-and-day difference. Organization improvements may include regular cleaning schedules, as well as the installation of organizational tools such as accessible labeling systems, filing cabinets, additional shelving and other new pieces of furniture. New labeling systems might also include color-coded tagging, floor tape to indicate where equipment belongs, a designated file-folder system, proper heat shrink sleeves for cable organization and identification and more, depending on employee needs.

Create a company culture that encourages communication

Companies that encourage employees to discuss and openly communicate their concerns are more likely to foster a safe working environment, even if the majority of those concerns are not directly related to safety.

When leadership fosters an environment of open communication across the board, employees new and old are more likely to bring up concerns without fear of being brushed off or facing retaliation. Understandably, the more open the conversation around concerns, the more attention can be applied to improving safety standards.

Educate staff on current safety protocols

Some injuries may be avoidable through common-sense practices, but many others occur because employees are undertrained in both their roles and the safety protocols around them. Even if an employee was formally trained on these protocols, they should be re-trained regularly. This helps not only ensure the information stays fresh in their mind, but also acts as an opportunity to update them on new procedures or to request feedback on where current concerns may lie.

OSHA outlines some of the benefits of an established safety plan:

  • All employees have the skills and information they need to perform daily functions safely, both for their own welfare and those around them.
  • Awareness around safety and potential dangers create more opportunities for workers to speak up about concerns and be proactive in resolving them.
  • Improved safety training increases opportunities for specialized training involving new roles, including important safety considerations.

One way to ensure that your staff is properly educated and trained is to partner with a safety solutions expert to create a world-class safety program that is both sustainable and compliant. This strategy will deliver you and your staff curated insights, services and products from top industry experts in your field.

Hold equipment training seminars

Once you’ve updated and shared safety training procedures, hosting regular equipment training seminars is the next important step in helping employees be proactive against errors and injury.

Providing additional safety-procedure training to all departments can also help your company improve its overall understanding of potential errors. What’s more, safety seminars can allow employees to share experiences that may help improve overall safety protocols.

In these seminars, providing durable, weather-resistant information packets is a great place to start. These packets may include printed labels and signs to be placed around the office and warehouse, indicating potential safety concerns and how to avoid injury.

Further, establishing best practices for preventing errors in your workplace creates a culture of safety-minded employees that crosses over naturally between departments. These best practices might include advice for keeping safety labels clear of obstruction, organizing wires and cables to avoid tripping hazards and encouraging employees to keep one another accountable to avoid risks.

Automate appropriate processes

In addition to ensuring proper safety procedures, seeking out areas of the process to automate can potentially help you reduce risk in the future. This is especially true for parts of any process that naturally expose employees to potential dangers.

Some of the ways automation improves safety and reduces potential error include:

  • Reducing repetitive motion injuries
  • Improving overall monitoring and enforcement of best practices
  • Removing workers from direct lines of danger

With the most recent advancements in things like intelligent manufacturing, processes that used to be dangerous are now being streamlined by machines that are not only able to increase productivity, but keep employees out of the way of safety concerns.

Identify areas where human errors are most common

Many industries face similar safety hazards and potential for error, but specific niches come with their own unique risks.

First and foremost, businesses should ensure baseline protections are in place through proper training. These include written standards for appropriate clothing, headwear and eye protection.

From there, employers should determine potential risks unique to their industry. To dig further into these specific safety risks, take the time to not only speak to employees working within the line of danger, but also look into any reports of injuries that occurred on the clock due to either negligence or human error. From there, determine which parts of the process can be addressed, and how.

In this process, be sure to not only perform thorough safety inspections, but also speak directly with the people working in those areas, as their hands-on experience will be invaluable.

Keep safety checklists nearby

The accessibility of safety checklists is valuable not only for people less familiar with the business and its processes, but also for tenured employees who either haven’t been recently trained or who wish to train fellow coworkers.

Safety checklists may look different depending on the industry, but many share common traits, such as:

  • Proper handling of potentially dangerous materials
  • How to reduce risk of repetitive motion injuries
  • Fire protection, including evacuation routes
  • General cleaning and hygiene practices
  • Fall prevention

Storing your company’s training materials in clearly labeled folders and marked locations is of the utmost importance, especially if something gets misplaced. With clear labeling, that’s available to print on-site, anyone who finds a lost item will be able to quickly return it to the proper location.

Take immediate action when notified of potential hazards

Additionally, it’s incumbent on leaders who are fostering a workplace of open communication to take potential risks seriously and address them right away. Whether the issue is immediate or has potentially long-term implications, it’s imperative for decision-makers to address it proactively rather than only when an error or accident occurs.

One of the first steps in being proactive includes establishing safety standards both in office spaces as well as warehouses. This might look like clearly labeled safety packages, signage and floor markings to show safe areas versus areas of potential danger.

From there, continue to encourage open communication about risks, as well as communication if an event occurs, no matter how small. If someone sustains a minor injury on the job, it not only means the business failed to protect them — but there could be concern for major injuries in the future.

It’s impossible to completely eliminate the possibility of human error in the workplace; however, there is plenty you can do to reduce its prevalence and mitigate the potential risks that may result from it. Implementing best practices discussed in this guide will put you on the path toward a safer workplace.


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