Category: Quality

What is the Difference Between a Safety Related Incident and a Quality Problem when using TapRooT®?

September 30th, 2015 by

Quality ControlWelcome to this week’s root cause analysis tips column.

This week I would like to ask the question…what is the difference between a safety incident and a quality problem?

Before you answer that, let me tell you that this is a trick question.

The answer is……drum roll please: there is NO DIFFERENCE. The difference in a safety problem vs. a quality problem is the consequence; there is no difference in the approach you take in investigating.

In TapRooT®, the first thing we always do is to create a SnapCharT®. And the first thing we do when creating a SnapCharT® is to define the incident with a circle. This defines the scope of your investigation. Your circle could contain anything that creates pain for your company and that you would like to prevent from happening again. Examples of things that might go in your circle:

• Fatality
• Lost time injury
• Recordable injury
• Vehicle accident
• Facility damage
• etc. etc.

• Defective product (not sent to customer)
• Defective product (sent to customer)
• Customer complaint
• Delayed shipment
• Returns
• etc. etc.

Once you have defined the incident, you map out what happened, define the causal factors, perform root cause analysis, and develop corrective actions.

So start thinking about different ways your company can use TapRooT®. I’ve mentioned Safety and Quality, but there are many more. equipment reliability, environment, security, project delays; the list is really endless.

The more ways you can use TapRooT®, the better ROI you will get from your training. I know from experience when different disciplines in an organization start speaking the same language, there are some great intangible benefits as well. So if you are a safety manager, drag your quality manager with you to training next time. You will be glad you did.

Thanks for visiting the blog and best wishes for your improvement efforts.

Would you like to receive tips like these in your inbox? Our eNewsletter is delivered every Tuesday and includes root cause tips, career development tips, current events and even a joke. Contact Barb at to sign up for the TapRooT® Friends & Experts eNewsletter.  

Get More from TapRooT®: Follow our Pages on LinkedIn

August 13th, 2015 by

Do you like quick, simple tips that add value to the way you work? Do you like articles that increase your happiness?  How about a joke or something to brighten your day? Of course you do! Or you wouldn’t be reading this post.  But the real question is, do you want MORE than all of the useful information we provide on this blog?  That’s okay – we’ll allow you to be greedy!

A lot of people don’t know we have a company page on LinkedIn that also shares all those things and more.  Follow us by clicking the image below that directs to our company page, and then clicking “Follow.”


We also have a training page where we share tips about career/personal development as well as course photos and information about upcoming courses.  If you are planning to attend a TapRooT® course or want a job for candidates with root cause analysis skills, click the image below that directs to our training page and then click “Follow.”

training page

Thank you for being part of the global TapRooT® community!

Robot Made a Human Error and a Worker was Killed

July 8th, 2015 by


The 22-year-old man died in hospital after the accident at a plant in Baunatal, 100km north of Frankfurt. He was working as part of a team of contractors installing the robot when it grabbed him, according to the German car manufacturer. Volkswagen’s Heiko Hillwig said it seemed that human error was to blame.

A worker grabs the wrong thing and often gets asked, “what were you thinking?” A robot picks up the wrong thing and we start looking for root causes.

Read the article below to learn more about the fatality and ask why would we not always look for root causes once we identify the actions that occurred?


Product Safety Recall…… one of the few times that I see Quality and Safety Merge

June 22nd, 2015 by

We can all remember some type of major product recall that affected us in the past (tires, brakes, medicine….) or recalls that may be impacting us today (air bags). These recalls all have a major theme, a company made something and somebody got hurt or worse. This is a theme of “them verses those” perception.

Now stop and ask, when is the last time quality and safety was discussed as one topic in your current company’s operations?

You received a defective tool or product….

  1. You issued a defective tool or product….
  2. A customer complained….
  3. A customer was hurt….
  4. ???….

Each of the occurrences above often triggers an owner for each type of problem:

  1. The supplier…
  2. The vendor…
  3. The contractor…
  4. The manufacturer….
  5. The end user….

Now stop and ask, who would investigate each type of problem? What tools would each group use to investigate? What are their expertise and experiences in investigation, evidence collection, root cause analysis, corrective action development or corrective action implementation?

This is where we create our own internal silo’s for problem solving; each problem often has it’s own department as listed in the company’s organizational chart:

  1. Customer Service (Quality)
  2. Manufacturing (Quality or Engineering)
  3. Supplier Management (Supply or Quality)
  4. EHS (Safety)
  5. Risk (Quality)
  6. Compliance (?)

The investigations then take the shape of the tools and experiences of those departments training and experiences.

Does anyone besides me see a problem or an opportunity here?

Why do you need advanced root cause analysis after an FDA audit?

May 21st, 2015 by

This article in the Houston Chronicle about and FDA audit and problems left unsolved at Blue Bell Ice Cream should convince people that thorough root cause analysis and implementation of effective corrective actions is needed to prevent business disasters.

Find out how TapRoot® can help you solve problems by reading this link:

Monday Accident & Lessons Learned: Root Cause Analysis Failure at Blue Bell Ice Cream?

May 11th, 2015 by


I read an article in the Houston Chronicle about failed corrective actions at Blue Bell® Ice Cream.

It made me wonder:

“Did Blue Bell perform an adequate root cause analysis?”

Sometimes people jump tp conclusions and implement inadequate corrective actions because they don’t address the root causes of the problem.

Its hard to tell without more information, but better root cause analysis sure couldn’t have hurt.

Find out how TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis can help find and fix the root causes of problems by reading about TapRooT®’s history at:

Root Cause Analysis Video Tips: Best Practices in Process Quality

February 5th, 2015 by

Tune in to this week’s TapRooT® Instructor Root Cause Analysis Tip with Chris Vallee. He shares a great process quality tip and news about his upcoming Process Quality & Corrective Action Track at the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit, June 3-5, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada!


Was this tip helpful?

Check out more short videos in our series:

Equifactor® – Are You Using it to Prevent Equipment Failures? (Click here to view tip.)

Be Proactive with Dave Janney (Click here to view tip.)

Conduct Real-Time Peer Reviews with Mark Paradies (Click here to view tip.)

What Makes a World-Class Root Cause Analysis System with Ken Reed (Click here to view tip.)

Even in Humor, You can learn about Root Cause and People from Dr. Deming

January 22nd, 2015 by

Caution: Watching this Video can and will make you laugh…… then you realize you might be laughing at…

… your own actions.

… your understanding of other peoples actions.

… your past corrective or preventative actions.

Whether your role or passion is in safety, operations, quality, or finance…. “quality is about people and not product.” Interestingly enough, many people have not heard Dr. Deming’s concepts or listened to Dr. Deming talk. Yet his thoughts may help you understand the difference between people not doing their best and the best the process and management will all to be produced.

To learn more about quality process thoughts and how TapRooT® can integrate with your frontline activities to sustain company performance  excellence, join a panel of Best Practice Presenters in our TapRooT® Summit Track 2015 this June in Las Vegas. A Summit Week that reminds you that learning and people are your most vital variables to success and safety.

To learn more about our Summit Track please go to this link.

If you have trouble getting access to the video, you can also use this link

Can TapRooT® Help You Stop Quality Issues?

December 16th, 2014 by

Our 2-day, 3-day and 5-day root cause analysis courses can help you find the solution to quality issues.

Many people know how successful TapRooT® is at stopping safety incidents. But I had a potential TapRooT® User call me to ask:

“Can TapRooT® be used to solve quality issues?”

I was surprised by the question. Of course, the answer is YES!

We’ve had people using TapRooT® to solve quality problems ever since we invented it. In our first consulting job back in 1989, we used TapRooT® to solve engineering and construction quality issues.

Why didn’t this potential TapRooT® User know that TapRooT® could be applied to quality issues?

The only answer was … We had not told him!

Quality issues, just like safety issues, are mainly caused by human errors. And TapRooT® is excellent at helping people find the correctable root causes of human errors.

Why does TapRooT® work on all kinds of problems (including ones that cause quality issues)? Because TapRooT® doesn’t care what the outcome of an error is. TapRooT® is looking for the correctable cause (or causes) of the error.

For example, an operator working in a factory may open the wrong breaker and stop the wrong piece of equipment. When he makes this mistake, he doesn’t know if the outcome will be a safety incident, a maintenance headache, an operations problem, or a quality issue. He wan’t planning on making the mistake and he certainly wasn’t deciding what kind of outcome his mistake would result in. And fixing the reason for his mistake will stop the problem no matter what outcome occurred after the error.

That’s why the examples in our standard 2-Day and 5-Day TapRooT® Courses apply not only to safety, but also to quality, maintenance, operations, and even hospital patient safety issues.

So if you are wondering if TapRooT® would work for the type of issues that your company faces, the answer is YES!

Attend one of our public 2-Day, 3-Day, or 5-Day TapRooT® Courses and find out how well TapRooT® can help you solve your toughest issues.

Food Industry Related OSHA General Duty Clause Citations: Did you make the list? Now what?

August 13th, 2014 by

OSHA General Duty Clause Citations: 2009-2012: Food Industry Related Activities


Doing a quick search of the OSHA Database for Food Industry related citations, it appears that Dust & Fumes along with Burns are the top driving hazard potentials.

Each citation fell under OSH Act of 1970 Section 5(a)(1): The employer did not furnish employment and a place of employment which were free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees in that employees were exposed……

Each company had to correct the potential hazard and respond using an Abatement Letter that includes words such as:

The hazard referenced in Inspection Number [insert 9-digit #]

for violation identified as:

 Citation [insert #] and item [insert #] was corrected on [insert

date] by:


Okay so you have a regulatory finding and listed above is one of the OSHA processes to correct it, sounds easy right? Not so fast…..

….are the findings correct?

….if a correct finding, are you correcting the finding or fixing the problems that allowed the issue?

….is the finding a generic/systemic issue?

As many of our TapRooT® Client’s have learned, if you want a finding to go away, you must perform a proper root cause analysis first. They use tools such as:


o   SnapCharT®: a simple, visual technique for collecting and organizing information quickly and efficiently.

o   Root Cause Tree®: an easy-to-use resource to determine root causes of problems.

o   Corrective Action Helper®: helps people develop corrective actions by seeing outside the box.

First you must define the Incident or Scope of the analysis. Critical in analysis of a finding is that the scope of your investigation is not that you received a finding. The scope of the investigation should be that you have a potential uncontrolled hazard or access to a potential hazard.

In thinking this way, this should also trigger the need to perform a Safeguard Analysis during the evidence collection and during the corrective action development. Here are a few blog articles that discuss this tool we teach in our TapRooT® Courses.

Monday Accident & Lesson NOT Learned: Why Do We Use the Weakest Corrective Actions From the Hierarchy of Safeguards?

Root Cause Analysis Tip: Analyze Things That Go Right … The After-Action Review

If you have not been taking OSHA Finding to the right level of action, you may want to benchmark your current action plan and root cause analysis process, see below:



Monday Accidents & Lessons Learned: FDA Wants Root Causes of Quality Issues Fixed

June 9th, 2014 by

Screen Shot 2014 06 04 at 1 28 35 PM

Look over recent FDA Warning Letters ( to medical device manufacturers, and you will see that about a third of them are issued because of failures of CAPA (Corrective and Preventive Action programs).

The FDA expects medical device manufacturers and drug makers to find the root causes of quality issues, effectively fix them, and monitor them to make sure that the fixes worked.

A key part of a CAPA program is effective root cause analysis. Without effective root cause analysis, problems tend to repeat – and the FDA definitely doesn’t like repeat problems. 

What makes effective root cause analysis? That’s a question we’ve been dedicated to answering for over 25 years. We designed the TapRooT® System to include tools to help guide investigators to the root causes of human performance and equipment reliability issues and find effective corrective actions to stop repeat problems from occurring.

Want to see how TapRooT® can help your company find and fix the root causes of quality issues? Then I would recommend attending one of our public 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Courses. See the upcoming public course schedule by CLICKING HERE

Don’t be afraid that the TapRooT® System won’t work at your company. Our training is guaranteed:

Attend this course, go back to work, and use what you have learned
to analyze accidents, incidents, near-misses, equipment failures, operating issues, or quality problems.
If you don’t find root causes that you previously would have overlooked and if you and your management
don’t agree that the corrective actions that you recommend are much more effective,
just return your course materials/software and we will refund the entire course fee.

 It’s that simple. We know TapRooT® will work for you because we’ve seen it work at so many companies in so many industries including pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. See success stories from multiple industries at:

But don’t wait. You can’t afford a major finding adverse to quality and a warning letter. And you don’t want to have the course you want to attend fill up before your register (seats are limited in each class). Register today and start applying TapRooT® to improve performance and avoid quality incidents.

If you need a kindergartner to explain your control chart for you….

December 20th, 2013 by

Watch two children explain their morning routine using a process flow chart and a control chart.

If you do not have a knowledgeable kindergartner hanging around to help you, I would recommend attending the following this April during our TapRooT® Summit Week:

Advanced Trending Techniques

TapRooT® Quality/Six Sigma/Lean Advanced Root Cause Analysis Training

Process Quality and Corrective Action Programs

Food Manufacturing Alert: Metal Objects Found in Doughnut . How Would You Investigate It?

August 27th, 2013 by

donut Material found in a doughnut, see the initial indications from the KAKE media article below. A child is in a hospital bed at an Army Hospital after he took a bite of a glazed cake doughnut from a large retailer bakery. His mother says that the child said the doughnut tasted crunchy and then he chipped a tooth. “There were pieces of black metal, some of them looked like rings, like washers off of a little screw, some of them were black metal fragments, like real sharp pieces,” says the mother. The mother says that the child complained he had abdominal pains after swallowing the objects from the doughnut. Read the article here. The retailer spokesperson said the company’s food safety team is looking into the incident, reaching out to the doughnut supplier and trying to figure out what happened.  Now what? Is this a safety or quality issue or both? If you were the retailer what would you do? Would you quarantine the doughnut and ask for access to the material found in the stomach? Would you be allowed? If you were the doughnut supplier what would you do? Would you look for similar batches and quarantine them? Would you inspect the batches or turn them over to the supply? Would you be allowed? If you were the doughnut manufacturer what would you do? Would you inspect the equipment used for this batch? Would you look for facility work order reports already completed or reported? For all 3 parties, would you work together as one team to resolve the issue? What if you could not find any evidence on your side of missing parts? Everything just discussed would be part of the analysis/investigation planning stage.  The first step of our TapRooT® 7 step investigation process. To learn more about what you would do following a problem, here are a few articles to learn more about are process and courses available. What is Root Cause Analysis? Root Cause Analysis Tip: Why Did The Robot Stop? (Comparing 5-Why Results with TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Results) Our public course schedule

WD-40 or Duct Tape, You Decide

August 21st, 2013 by

I know, it is too early for Friday’s Joke of the Day, but I could not help it.  I saw this posted recently and had to share.



As you are laughing, look into your tool cabinet and tell me that you do not have these 2 items in it.

Now if you want to know how to troubleshoot equipment the right way to find the right what’s and why’s and want an Individual TapRooT® Software License (comes with the course), then join us at one of our Equifactor® courses.

Here is the current schedule:

I’ll bring my WD-40 and Duct Tape for the classroom equipment.


Equipment Root Cause Tip: Raise your hand if you have never reset a circuit breaker…….

August 7th, 2013 by


What are the risks of setting a circuit breaker without knowing why it opened?


I just saw this local news article about a father teaching his daughter about the circuit breaker panel in their house after a ceiling fan stopped working. End result….. House on fire.  Read more here.


With eighteen years in aviation and having worked on the  C-141 Aircraft, this incident brought to mind the wrong pump replaced and resetting the circuit breaker during testing explosion. Read more here.

There are additional ways to gain equipment troubleshooting experience without starting a fire. The easiest way is to attend one of our upcoming Equifactor® Course coming up in your local area. See the schedule here:

School Lunch and Water Poisoning in India… are the Root Causes Similar?

August 5th, 2013 by

With community protests after losing school aged loved ones, the Indian Government is closing in on suspected causes to include suspects. But is this a sign of Systemic Food Quality Control or as TapRooT® calls them “Generic Causes”? Will the nature of the investigations detour looking for Generic Causes by looking for blame instead?

Read below and ask, how would this be investigated or analyzed if it were in your hometown? What would be the response of the lunch cafeterias and Food on Wheels programs for the elderly and sick?

In a months time…..

23 students in the southwestern coastal state of Goa were treated at a hospital after they got sick at lunch

23 students died and 25 people were hospitalized from food poisoning after a school lunch in northern India’s Bihar state

Schoolchildren falling sick after drinking contaminated water from hand pumps continued for the third consecutive day on Saturday with at least 35 more students taken ill in different parts of Bihar.

Arrests made in two of incidents with possible cause  being insecticide poisoning; the water pump incident possibly criminal intent and the Bahir lunch room incident due to possible negligence.  The Goa incident not so clear in details yet.

Due to fear, large lunch producers temporarily shut down their lunch kitchens resulting in children not getting their mandated free lunches during school.

See more at this link:

Consent Decree of Permanent Injunctions appear too frequent in FDA Regulated Industries, Why?

July 16th, 2013 by

Whether in the medical device, pharmaceutical or the food manufacturing industry, a company usually has had many violation corrective action chances before they get a consent decree of permanent injunction. At this point a third party reviews current deviations and often identifies a weak or non-existent root cause analysis program.


Now don’t get me wrong, this is often when our TapRooT® Root Cause Process gets recommended as a possible option and we gain a new client. However, I would prefer working with an FDA regulated company to develop effective corrective actions before they get in trouble. Or at least when they get their first FDA Finding.


Often FDA findings are found by an external audit.  To remain independent, the auditor turns over the findings through proper protocol and the company involved must provide proof that the causes were found and that the corrective action is effective. So if this protocol is followed, how did we get to a permanent injunction?  Can the repeat findings be purely an Enforcement Needs Improvement Root Cause for policies not followed?


I suggest Enforcement needs improvement is not the only problem.  To find out what your company might be missing in your RCA process. Find a course close to you and send one of your key quality or safety problem facilitators.  Here is our upcoming courses link:


To get you thinking about possible gaps in your root cause analysis program, view this presentation given at our 2012 TapRooT® Summit.


Then check out the quality track in the upcoming 2014 Summit in April.

Why Do People Have Problems Finding Root Causes? Read this Article – Under Scrutiny – from Quality Progress…

February 25th, 2013 by

Do you have problems finding the root causes of quality problems, safety incidents, or mechanical failures? It could be becuse of the root cause analysis tools you have chosen to use. Some tools have inherent weaknesses that are “built in.”

The article attached below (as first appeared in Quality Progress, the flagship magazine of the quality professional society ASQ), explains why some techniques commonly recommended for root cause analysis (like 5 Whys) will cause problems when applied by people in the field.

Download (PDF, 6.04MB)

(click the link above to download the article)

Once you finished reading about the limitations of 5-Whys and Cause-and-Effect, sign up to learn about the advanced root cause analysis system that was intelligently designed to avoid those problems … TapRooT®.

CLICK HERE for more information about TapRooT® (including a TV interview of Mark Paradies about root cause analysis) and HERE for information about TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Training.

Healthcare Scandal in UK – Calls for Major Improvements in Patient Safety and Criminal Prosecution of “Wrongdoers”

February 24th, 2013 by

Here’s a link to one of many stories about the “scandal” at UK hospitals in the Midlands:

The story says that “…up to 1,200 patients are believed to have died between January 2005 and March 2009 as a result of poor care at Stafford hospital.”

Here’s a link to the Executive Summary of the report referred to in the article:

Here’s a page where you can download the entire report:

The reports are extensive and I haven’t yet been able to wade through them (many volumes and 290 recommendations).

Here’s a press conference by the Chair of the Inquiry, Robert Francis QC:

The problems reported certainly do seem shocking. The problems are obviously systemic (generic) and seem to be related to the organization. The call for culture change seems obvious, but how to change the culture will be difficult. The problem for patients is the lack of choice (there is only one NHS) so that patients can’t “vote with their feet” when the standards of care become substandard.

The popular press and political outcry is calling for increased regulation and criminal prosecution of those who violate the rules. This seems close to the standard blame game and may succeed temporarily until the increased scrutiny eventually succumbs to complacency. This seems common in organizations with a monopoly on a certain service or product.

It seems to me that competition from hospitals trying to win additional patients would be the ultimate culture change recommendation. However, it is unlikely that this approach could be taken since the UK has had a single national service for so long.

Being in the UK when the story was receiving so much press, I was constantly being asked about how one would find the root causes of patient safety relayed problems. Of course, I described how healthcare organizations in the US use TapRooT® to investigate sentinel events. In the US, patient safety is becoming a competitive advantage – a way that hospitals may compete for patients.

What does your hospital do to ensure the highest standards of patient safety? Does your root cause analysis find and fix the root causes of patient safety problems? Does your management require advanced root cause analysis and insist on the implementation of effective corrective actions to sentinel events? Can you show the improvement in patient safety through the use of advanced trending tools?

Those interested in improving patient safety should consider attending the Improving Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety Track at the 2013 Global TapRooT® Summit in Gatlinburg, TN, on March 20-22. For more Summit information see:

And for the track’s detailed schedule, see:

and click on the button on the left for the track specific schedule.

For those in the UK, changes as great as those described will be difficult and take tremendous effort. I wish you luck but advise you that thorough advanced root cause analysis and effort will be required on a continuing basis if progress is to be made.

Connect with Us

Filter News

Search News


Barb PhillipsBarb Phillips

Editorial Director

Chris ValleeChris Vallee

Six Sigma

Dan VerlindeDan Verlinde

Software Development

Dave JanneyDave Janney

Safety & Quality

Ed SkompskiEd Skompski


Gabby MillerGabby Miller

Communications Specialist

Ken ReedKen Reed


Linda UngerLinda Unger

Vice President

Mark ParadiesMark Paradies

Creator of TapRooT®

Steve RaycraftSteve Raycraft

Technical Support

Success Stories

Four years ago I was an incident investigator, an incident reviewer, and an investigation techniques…

Hydro One

We started using TapRooT® in the mid 1990s after one of our supervisors wanted to instill a more formal process to our investigations…

Contact Us