Organizational leaders are increasingly turning to Human Performance (HP) principles to improve safety culture and performance. Unlike the old “command and control” engineering approaches, HP emphasizes the importance of improving environmental contingencies to encourage safe work practices. Leaders using HP philosophies focus on improving discretionary effort in partnership with employees. This includes a strong emphasis on eliminating “blame” with incidents and fixing system flaws identified in incident analysis and close call reporting. This systems approach leads to a safer and more open learning culture compared to “blame and shame” strategies.
Basic HP tenants include:
• Error-likely situations are predictable, manageable, and preventable. Most incidents are influenced by system factors like confusing procedures, excessive production pressure, faulty tools/equipment, insufficient personnel, and ineffective training.
• When SIFs occur, workers trigger latent conditions that already exist in systems, processes, procedures, and expectations. These conditions lay dormant until all the wrong events align perfectly to create gaps in worker protection.
• High reliability organizations have effective engineering (e.g., safeguards on equipment), administrative (e.g., procedures), and cultural (e.g., organizational values for safety) defenses to mitigate the influence of human error and error precursors.
• Safety should not be viewed as the absence of events but rather the presence of solid, consistent defences against human error.
Our HP training and implementation focuses on understanding error precursors and combating the effects of normalized deviation. This includes specific, actionable tools people can use to keep themselves and others safe. Also, we include cognitive and behavioral elements to provide a more holistic approach to human performance and safety culture improvement. This includes themes like positive psychology, emotional intelligence, growth mindset, self-efficacy, reducing stress and fatigue, social influence principles, and cognitive rebooting. Specific topics include:
• Understanding human error
• Error precursors and hazard recognition traps
• Creating a learning environment
• Leadership competencies for safety success
• Employee ownership and participation
• Internal personal control for safety
• Safety communication skills
• The power of recognition and appreciation
• Human performance tools
HP principles and tools have been successfully used in aviation, energy, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, and medical fields to prevent workplace incidents. Findings from three case studies with Nordic Nuclear Facilities showed safety accident rates dropped significantly and human error rates dropped by 400% following HP implementation of peer checks, task observations, and three-way communication (Oedewald et. al., 2015). After implementing an HP coaching program in a radiation department, the mean number of days between serious safety incidents went from 200 to more than 1,000. During this time, perceptions of safety culture improved for all 42 items of an assessment survey (Dickerson et. al., 2010). Also, the use of HP checklists with surgeons was associated with a 47% decrease in mortality and 36% drop in morbidity. Researchers concluded these HP checklists helped save lives by a) reminding operating room staff to check key details during operations, and b) encouraging increased teamwork and communication (Haynes et. al., 2009). When implemented intelligently, HP training and tools help save lives.
Our more holistic HP training will help you reduce human error, improve safety culture, and prevent serious injuries and fatalities in your organizations. It also leads to a more open and positive safety culture with increased employee participation and leadership buy-in.