Welcome to this week’s Root Cause Analysis Tips column. I am posting this on Tuesday this week since I wanted to let you know where we are in case you can drop by to see us.

Greetings from San Antonio, where the System Improvements’ Team is exhibiting and speaking at the VPPPA (Voluntary Protection Programs Participants Association) conference. We have had a great week so far.

This week I thought I would discuss how advanced root cause analysis and TapRooT® fit into VPP. Even if you are not a safety person or a VPP participant, I think you can also take some ideas away from the discussion.

One of the elements (and arguably the most important) of VPP is Management Commitment & Employee Involvement. One of the things I think is important in this element is the use of continuous improvement teams. Employees get fired up about helping the organization improve, and that is what VPP is all about. The problem, is, however, that many employees (and managers!) do not have the knowledge to turn that energy into results. Before fixing problems you need to fully understand what the problems really are and why they are occurring (root cause!) Using TapRooT® as your tool to accomplish this and using the corrective action tools available can be the difference between success and failure in a continuous improvement project.

Another way to involve employees is to have them assist with investigations. We recommend that employees untrained in root cause analysis only be used in the information gathering and corrective action stages of the investigation, with trained TapRooT® experts doing the actual root cause analysis.

What about management? Management has to commit and provide the direction and resources for improvement; however, they cannot do that without good information. When you understand the root causes of your problems and the cost of failure to the organization, you can gain the resources you need and the commitment required.

Two other elements of VPP are Hazard Recognition/Control & Worksite Analysis. These are very important (and fun!) because they are proactive. If you are a VPP site (or want to be one), you do many things proactively, but what if you could improve the way you do these things? That would be powerful.

Here are some suggestions for ways you can use TapRooT® to improve your proactive activities:

· Employee involvement in audits

· Best Practice Recognition through the TapRooT® System

· Root Cause Analysis of hazard reports

· Root Cause Analysis of Emergency Drills

· Availability of best practices for JHA/JSA development

· TapRooT® trending

· Startup analysis of new processes

The final element of VPP is Safety and Health Training. If you are going to involve employees, the more training that can be provided the better. Maybe it is continuous improvement training, or maybe it is root cause analysis training. The key here is you are not only improving the business but you are developing employees and improving your bench strength in the process. If you are interested in having the SI team come to your site to provide root cause analysis training, contact us at 865-539-2139. One last point about training is that you can use TapRooT® best practices to improve your current training content and delivery.

At the end of the day, you are trying to improve your business and keep people safe. If you are a VPP site, you have already picked the “low hanging fruit” and need to use some advanced techniques to get to the next level. And whether it is your annual report, recertification visit, or initial approval visit, you want to be able to show improvement. The use of an expert system (TapRooT®) is a big help.

So that’s it. I hope I have given you some ideas to use. Wednesday is the last day of the expo, so come by and see us at Booth 205, and attend our talk (Advanced Root Cause Analysis; Improving Investigations and Audits) at 10:30 on Wednesday in Room 214B. We would love to meet you.

Best of luck with your improvement efforts, and let us know how we can help.