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Skill-based Error

Discuss about the Human Error and Preventive Actions.

Human error can be defined as something that is committed without the intention of the person. It can also be defined as an act of work that does not fulfill a particular set of rules set for it. These might lead the task or system to breakdown. Logically, failure of human actions can occur due to two reasons: the actions might have gone as planned, but the plan itself was inadequate; or, the plan might be sufficient enough, but the performance unsatisfactory (Dekker, 2014). This report aims at describing the three main types of human error and discussing their individual preventive actions. They are errors in skill-based, rule-based and knowledge-based behaviors (Mattox, 2012). These errors will be described in detail. The reason behind such mistakes and the possible preventive actions will be highlighted upon, in the further course of the report.

The failure in performance and engaging in unintentional actions are classified as skill-based errors. Whereas, failures related to intended actions or planning, are known as mistakes and can be further categorized as rule-based and knowledge-based mistakes (Chen et al., 2013).

Skill-based errors generally tend to occur during routine activities. These may occur if the attention is diverted from the task, due to either thoughts or certain external factors. These errors generally occur even though the individual has all the necessary knowledge, skills and experience required for the job. The same individual might have performed the tasks correctly many a times in the past or on a regular basis. However, due to certain distractions, he or she may fail to do it correctly that one time, and the error is committed. This kind of errors does not reflect any discrepancy in the individual’s grasp over the task. This may however help the supervisors conclude that the individual is inattentive or that the work environment is not peaceful enough. As the work of an individual becomes more of a routine and less creative, they can be compiled with little consciousness. Thus, more familiar the task becomes, the easier it gets for the mind to wander off. In such fields of work, it can be concluded that the highly experienced workers can commit more skill-based errors compared to the people with less experience. Further classification of skill-based errors reveals slip of action, memory lapse and environmental capture (Raeson & Hobbs, 2017).

Preventive Actions

Slip of Action: This occurs at the execution stage of a task. An individual might perform a task wrongly due to inattentiveness or disturbances (Baars, 2013).

For example, a pilot who is to key in a certain command-A into the GPS system ends up keying in command-B, on being interrupted by his co-pilot’s query (Plant and Stanton, 2012).

Memory Lapse: This occurs after the framing of the plan but before its execution, while the plan is still there in the memory. Memory lapse is forgetting to do a certain part of a sequence (Guo et al., 2014).

For example, considering an example in the IT industry where an employee is well aware of doing documentation reports for software codes. One fine day, he might forget to do the proper formatting of the document and commit the task without it. This would go in as a skill-based error due to memory lapse, as he unintentionally skipped a step.

Environmental Capture: This type of error occurs when the individual is doing the same task that he is accustomed to, but in a new environment or system (Afonso & Mesquita, 2013). It takes a bit of adaptation for the human brain to adapt itself to the change.

For example, a person who is used to work on a normal desktop keyboard with a separate number pad might face problems when introduced to a laptop keyboard without the number pad. He or she might end up striking wrong keys on the keyboard while intending to type numbers.

As there are further classifications in skill-based error, different preventive measures should be taken. To avoid or prevent slip of action, one must put extreme concentration at work. External disturbances should be minimized. Regular crosschecking must be practiced while doing fast paced tasks (Min et al., 2015). Memory lapse error occurs once in a while. One might never know or realize if he or she had forgotten a step. These are just unlucky errors. Errors due to environmental capture are the easiest to prevent. It generally fades away with time. Once the individual gets used to working in the new environment, he may succeed in adapting to it.

Rule-based mistakes occur when an intended course of action fails to achieve the expected outcomes. These may happen due to an inappropriate follow up of a rule or due to the application of an improper or misfit plan (Kuselman et al., 2013).

Rule-based Mistakes

Many examples can be drawn related to this case. One for example is a situation in medical emergency. Generally, it is advised to apply fresh water on a cut or injury before applying any medical ointment. An individual, trying to follow the same rule, applies water on an injury caused due to burn. This would in turn cause more damage to it. This can be considered as a rule-based mistake, as the individual tried to follow the same medical steps for a cut injury while handling a burn. The plan did not work out, leading to a mistake.

Another example can be of a carpenter, who is supposed to let the furniture dry for at least a day after applying glue. Instead, he fails to abide by the rule and starts working on it before the prescribed time. This might degrade the quality of the furniture. This is a situation where the improper execution of rules leads to mistakes.

To avoid or prevent rule-based mistakes, a variety of actions can be performed. The individual who is used to such mistakes must take extra care into resolving them. He or she must take into in-depth learning of rules and regulations to handle respective situations. People often tend to break rules to attain shortcuts to success. Therefore, patience is another important factor that can help to eliminate such issues. Special care and help can be provided as an outsider as well. A supervisor for example, can arrange special training sessions for individuals who tend to misinterpret plans and rules on a regular basis. This would help in clearing out any doubt that the individual may have.

These mistakes occur, when an intended task fails to reach its desired outcome due to the lack of acute knowledge. People, when attempting to work by the trial-and-error method also commit this kind of mistakes. Incorrect or improper knowledge communication often results in such mistakes. Inadequate quality of training, lack of a proper learning infrastructure or weak attentiveness towards the learning process leads people into committing such mistakes. This is common among fresh employees. Having just joined a new job, they tend to be nervous. They also lack enough experience. Therefore, such mistakes occur. Knowledge-based mistakes are extremely common due to the vastness of knowledge-based tasks. There is no end to learning. In certain cases, people tend to concentrate on the broader details of a learning process and instead ignore the petty ones. This creates a lack in knowledge as well. Tasks that require such petty knowledge would cause problems for them.

Knowledge-based Mistake

Examples of such mistakes can be drawn from every possible field. Supposedly, a hotel chef, trying to prepare something new, applies his own wit. As in this case, he chose the trial and error method to achieve his goal, the food might not turn out to be good enough (Harrington & Ottebbacher, 2013). This would go down as a knowledge-based mistake, due to improper planning. However, such mistakes are generally encountered during tests.

A trainee programmer, who has just been promoted to the team, may tend to commit this kind of mistakes. He lacks the experience needed to handle all kind of bugs and problems in his programs (King, Holder & Ahmed, 2013).

Eliminating knowledge-based mistakes is a tough ask. As mentioned earlier, there is no end to learning. Nevertheless, there are methods that can be adapted to avoid such mistakes. In the era of internet, one can take into consulting the web whenever a doubt crosses the mind. An individual must have the tendency to keep learning with special emphasis laid on quality rather than quantity. Trial and error methods should be abandoned in case of serious matters. Individuals must be highly attentive to training and induction sessions if they wish to avoid early knowledge based mistakes at work. Supervisors must also hold patience in dealing with such issues. Learning is a slow process and comes eventually. Punishing an individual for their lack of knowledge would only degrade his or her confidence. However, supporting the person and helping him with information, would only boost his productivity.

Conclusion

Human error and human performance can be concluded as two sides of the same coin. The study of the characteristics of error, reveal the various categories in it. Skill-based errors occur due to absentmindedness or external disturbances and rule-based errors due to human negligence. They are still avoidable. Knowledge-based errors are however inevitable, as there is never an end to learning, in any field. Human error can never be completely abolished. To err is human. However, the only common way to escape from making such error is to crosscheck the tasks. Some mistakes might be irreparable. People must never lose hope. To fix their own errors and mistakes is their sole duty.

References

Afonso, J., & Mesquita, I. (2013). Skill-based differences in visual search behaviours and verbal reports in a representative film-based task in volleyball. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, 13(3), 669-677.

Baars, B. J. (Ed.). (2013). Experimental slips and human error: Exploring the architecture of volition. Springer Science & Business Media.

Chen, S. T., Wall, A., Davies, P., Yang, Z., Wang, J., & Chou, Y. H. (2013). A Human and Organisational Factors (HOFs) analysis method for marine casualties using HFACS-Maritime Accidents (HFACS-MA). Safety science, 60, 105-114.

Dekker, S. (2014). The field guide to understanding'human error'. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd..

Guo, B., Zhang, D., Yang, D., Yu, Z., & Zhou, X. (2014). Enhancing memory recall via an intelligent social contact management system. IEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems, 44(1), 78-91.

Harrington, R. J., & Ottenbacher, M. C. (2013). Managing the culinary innovation process: The case of new product development. Journal of culinary science & technology, 11(1), 4-18.

King, A., Holder, M. G., & Ahmed, R. A. (2013). Errors as allies: error management training in health professions education. BMJ Qual Saf, bmjqs-2012.

Kuselman, I., Pennecchi, F., Fajgelj, A., & Karpov, Y. (2013). Human errors and reliability of test results in analytical chemistry. Accreditation and Quality Assurance, 18(1), 3-9.

Mattox, E. A. (2012). Strategies for improving patient safety: linking task type to error type. Critical care nurse, 32(1), 52-78.

Min, C., Kashyap, S., Lee, B., Song, C., & Kim, T. (2015, October). Cross-checking semantic correctness: The case of finding file system bugs. In Proceedings of the 25th Symposium on Operating Systems Principles (pp. 361-377). ACM.

Plant, K. L., & Stanton, N. A. (2012). Why did the pilots shut down the wrong engine? Explaining errors in context using Schema Theory and the Perceptual Cycle Model. Safety science, 50(2), 300-315.

Reason, J., & Hobbs, A. (2017). Managing maintenance error: a practical guide. CRC Press.

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