Get Custom Virtual Training the Way You Need It!   Learn More

Incident Prevention Magazine

4 minutes reading time (720 words)

Error-Free Performance: Part II

This month we continue with the remaining tools that will help you with error-free performance. First, a quick recap:
• Human error is normal, but can be provoked by practices found in the workplace and by traps in organizational processes, procedures and culture.
• When applied in the moment, a series of techniques called “tools” will catch errors or help avoid error traps.
• A tool can be used alone or multiple tools can be used depending on the complexity of the task.
• The challenge is developing the habit to routinely use tools. They are used every day by emergency room personnel, 911 center operators, pilots and air traffic controllers, nuclear plant personnel and employees of other businesses where errors create unwanted consequences. These tools are used around the world because they work.

Remaining Error-Free Performance Tools:
Self-Check (STAR)
Basic principle: Anticipate your next step or outcome; stop if you don’t get the expected outcome when:
• Interrupted in the middle of a task
• Manipulating or altering site equipment or controls
• Revising drawings or procedures using electronic cut and paste

STAR Practice
• Stop. Focus attention on the task at hand. Stop if conditions change or if you don’t understand the next step(s) in the process.
• Think. Understand what will happen when correct action is taken and what the expected response will be. Think about the next steps in the process to prevent accidents, incidents and mistakes.
• Act. Perform the correct action following appropriate guidance or written instructions.
• Review. Verify the anticipated results are obtained.

Peer Check
Basic principle: Get a second set of eyes on your actions or deliverables:
• When performing actions that, if incorrectly performed, could result in significant consequences
• During all non-emergency equipment manipulations

Peer Check Method 1: Concurrent Verification
Definition: Verification occurs while you are present
When to use:
• When performing actions that, if incorrectly performed, could result in irreversible consequences

Peer Check Method 2: Independent Verification
Verification occurs while you are not present
When to use:
• During system switching
• During placement of equipment LO/TO or clearance tags
• Verification of calculations

Job Site Review: Take Two
Basic principle: Take time to focus on your task after breaks and interruptions:
• Upon arriving at the physical work location
• When a potential safety hazard is present
• After extended breaks/interruptions, such as lunch breaks

Place Keeping
Basic principle: Circle the step to be executed and slash through it when completed. This will ensure you will always be on the right step when:
• Performing switching routines
• Performing sequential steps of a procedure
• Using a continuous procedure

Basic principle: Mark equipment to be operated or worked on, specifically when equipment is found in multiple numbers, such as electrical circuit breakers and valves.
• When repeatedly handling similar-looking equipment
• During work near operationally-sensitive or otherwise risk-important equipment

Basic principle: Ensure good handoff and communication between crews or individuals:
• During shift changes
• For emergent work that extends beyond one shift
• When performing critical or complex activities over multiple shifts
• When changing responsibilities for tasks in progress
• When transferring responsibilities between people

Questioning Attitude
Basic principle: To be used at all times, especially:
• When experiencing uncertainty, confusion or doubt, or a gut feeling that something is not right
• When encountering unanticipated changes in conditions
• After discovering missing information or resources
• Upon hearing danger words and phrases such as “I think,” “maybe” or “should be”

Post-Job Critique
Basic principle: Capture the lessons learned so improvements can be made next time the job is executed.
• When completing any work in which complications occurred
• After completing a non-routine or important work task
• At the conclusion of emergent work

By getting in the habit of using these tools, errors can be significantly reduced while performing work, saving time, money and lives!

About the Author: John Boyle is Corporate Director of Quality, Safety and Environment for Acciona Energy North America, a sustainable energy company that develops and operates wind and solar power facilities across North America. Boyle has more than 26 years of experience in nuclear generation and electric and gas distribution, which provides him with unique insight into the safety challenges faced by utility workers.

Partnering to Increase Work-Site Fire Safety
No Substitute

Related Posts



No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Friday, 14 August 2020

Captcha Image

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to


360 Memorial Drive, Suite 10, Crystal Lake, IL 60014 | 815.459.1796 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
© 2004 - 2020 Incident Prevention. All Rights Reserved.