Think Before You Act

By Ann Emrick

Human performance improvement is a set of concepts based on the knowledge of human behavior. These concepts can help us to understand and better manage our interaction with people, processes, equipment, and our work environment. The basic premise is that people are fallible, and even the best make mistakes so we need to build systems that allow for mistakes to occur without them becoming an issue and we need to make people aware of what they can do to lessen the potential for error.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you start a task in order to reduce the chance of error:

  • What are the critical steps of the task that must go right (not only for safety purposes but for efficiency and cost)?
  • How can I make a mistake at the critical step?
    • Am I in a hurry or stressed?
    • Trying to do multiple tasks at once?
    • Repetitive actions or monotonous task that might cause me to become distracted.
  • What is the worst thing that can go wrong and if it does am I prepared to handle it?

For more information see the Bulletin vol. 62 No. 32 from September 19, 2008


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Last Modified: November 24, 2008
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DOE, Office of Science One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE's Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by the Research Foundation for the State University of New York on behalf of Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.

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