Category: Root Causes
A frequent question that I see in various on-line chat forums is: “Is human error a root cause?” For TapRooT® Users, the answer is obvious. NO! But the amount of discussion that I see and the people who even try suggesting corrective actions for human error with no further analysis is amazing. Therefore, I thought I’d provide those who are NOT TapRooT® Users with some information about how TapRooT® can be used to find and fix the root causes of human error.
First, we define a root cause as:
“the absence of a best practice or the failure to apply knowledge that would have prevented a problem.”
But we went beyond this simple definition. We created a tool called the Root Cause Tree® to help investigators go beyond their current knowledge to discover human factors best practices/knowledge to improve human performance and stop/reduce human errors.
How does the Root Cause Tree® work?
First, if there is a human error, it gets the investigator to ask 15 questions to guide the investigator to the appropriate seven potential Basic Cause Categories to investigate further to find root causes.
The seven Basic Cause Categories are:
- Quality Control,
- Human Engineering,
- Work Direction, and
- Management Systems.
If a category is indicated by one of the 15 questions, the investigator uses evidence in a process of elimination and selection guided by the questions in the Root Cause Tree® Dictionary.
The investigator uses evidence to work their way down the tree until root causes are discovered under the indicated categories or until that category is eliminated. Here’s the Human Engineering Basic Cause Category with one root cause (Lights NI).
The process of using the Root Cause Tree® was tested by users in several different industries including a refinery, an oil exploration division of a major oil company, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and an airline. In each case, the tests proved that the Tree helped investigators find root causes that they previously would have overlooked and improved the company’s development of more effective corrective actions. You can see examples of the results of performance improvement by using the TapRooT® System by clicking here.
If you would like to learn to use TapRooT® and the Root Cause Tree® to find the real root causes of human error and to improve human performance, I suggest that you attend our 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Course and bring an incident that you are familiar with to the course to use as a final exercise.
Note that we stand behind our training with an ironclad guarantee. Attend the course. Go back to work and apply what you have learned. If you and your management don’t agree that you are finding root causes that you previously would have overlooked and that your management doesn’t find that the corrective actions you recommend are much more effective, just return your course materials and software and we will refund the entire course fee. No questions asked. It’s just that simple.
How can we make such a risk-free guarantee?
Because we’ve proven that TapRooT® works over and over again at industries around the world. We have no fear that you will see that TapRooT® improves your analysis of human errors, helps you develop more effective corrective actions, and helps your company achieve the next level better level of performance.
Could scheduling be a root cause of fatigue related errors? Navy OKs new watch schedule to reduce fatigue on submarines.April 22nd, 2014 by Mark Paradies
Finally an attempt to reduce fatigue on submarines. See the story here:
News & Current Events: In the Wake of Fukushima, The Natural Resources Defense Council’s Newest Report Condemns the NRC’s Hydrogen Generation SafetyMarch 12th, 2014 by Megan Craig
From the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Report Preventing Hydrogen Explosions In Severe Nuclear Accidents: Unresolved Safety Issues Involving Hydrogen Generation And Mitigation
“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is failing to meet the statutory standard of “adequate protection” of the public against the hazard of hydrogen explosions in a severe reactor accident.
After Fukushima Daiichi’s three devastating hydrogen explosions, the NRC decided to relegate investigating severe accident hydrogen safety issues to the lowest-priority and least proactive stage of its post–Fukushima Daiichi accident response.
NRDC believes that the NRC should reconsider its approach and promptly address severe accident safety issues involving hydrogen.”
Click this link to read the full report: http://www.nrdc.org/nuclear/hydrogen-generation-safety.asp
A short synopsis of the findings:
NRDC Report: U.S. Nuclear Safety Regulators Ignore Severe Accident Hydrogen Explosion Risks Despite Fukushima Tragedy
An in-depth interpretation of the findings:
US Nuclear Safety Regulators Continue to Ignore Lessons of Fukushima for Severe Accident Hydrogen Explosion Risk at US Reactors
What do you think? Share your opinion in the comments.
Fukushima Photo courtesy of: http://www.globalresearch.ca/articlePictures/fukushimafire.bmp
If you’ve been following our blog lately, you’ve noticed we’ve been busy preparing for the 2014 Global TapRooT® Summit (Horseshoe Bay, Texas, April 7 – 11, 2013).
You may have even considered signing up. I mean, who wouldn’t want to stay at the AAA Four Diamond Horseshoe Bay Resort (maybe even bring your spouse and enjoy it as a couple).
And just how many chances in life do you get to meet and hear world-class speakers like Rocky Bleier?
But just when you were about to press the registration button, you thought:
Wait, I’m not sure I understand all there is to understand about TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis.
Since the TapRooT® folks are putting this together, shouldn’t I be TapRooT® trained before I attend?
First, if you are not TapRooT® trained, come to the 3-day Summit anyway. Multiple tracks designed to share best practices within and across industries and professions make this event valuable to all. There are plenty of best practice session to choose from and you can create your own schedule if you don’t want to select a specific learning track.
And second, you can actually be TapRooT® trained before the 3-day Summit begins! We’re offering our 2-Day TapRooT® Incident Investigation & Root Cause Analysis Pre-Summit Course on April 7-8, 2014 as a Pre-Summit Course!
TapRooT® Techniques are designed for everyone from beginner to expert. In just two days, learn the TapRooT® Essentials to find and fix the root causes of incidents, accidents, quality problems, near-misses, operational errors, hospital sentinel events and other types of problems.
The essential TapRooT® Techniques include:
- SnapCharT® – a simple, visual technique for collecting and organizing information to understand what happened.
- Root Cause Tree® – a systematic, repeatable way to find the root causes of human performance and equipment problems — the Root Cause Tree® helps investigators see beyond their current knowledge.
- Corrective Action Helper® – help lead investigators “outside the box” to develop effective corrective actions.
Using the TapRooT® System to find and fix the real root causes of problems keeps them from happening again and again.
So take our 2-Day course and then reinforce your new knowledge at the Summit by registering for the Incident Investigation and Root Cause Analysis Track. Make it a week of valuable learning that will contribute not only to your personal career development but also to saving lives and preventing injuries at your facility.
This is the same course we offer globally throughout the year, and what better time is there to join the global TapRooT® team than right before the Summit where all of our friends and experts meet?
Register for this Pre-Summit Course and the Summit today!
Or learn more about the 2014 Global TapRooT® Summit!
When many people first see the “enforcement NI” root cause on the TapRooT® Root Cause Tree®, they think that the obvious corrective action would be discipline. But those who read the TapRooT® Corrective Action Helper® know that there are reasons for people violating rules and that the only way to truly change behavior is to address the reasons why the rules are being broken.
The article, “The Five Pitfalls of Discipline in Safety,” clearly presents reasons why enforcement might need improvement. Click on the link and see if you agree.
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 doughnutt 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.
Our public course schedule
By Chris Vallee
I was an aircraft mechanic in USAF when this incident occurred. The aftermath of the F-15 Crash and Pilot Fatality continued with an Airman’s suicide was loss to many.
While, I knew the basics, I just recently found a follow up report and wanted to share it. The information is taken directly from the article as is without my paraphrase. Here is the website.
An Air Force review board has partly cleared the name of an F-15 mechanic who committed suicide in 1996 rather than face a court-martial for a fatal repair error.
Evidence showed that TSgt. XXXXXX did not perform the botched control rod maintenance at issue, although he did check the work and found nothing wrong.
In addition, several previous incidents in which other mechanics made the same mistakes should have alerted the Air Force to a potential problem, according to the board.
“We did not think XXXX was totally free of all responsibility,” said Lee Baseman, chairman of the correction board. “But it was our view that he was unduly carrying the burden for a series of missteps that went back at least 10 years.”
In May 1995, XXXX and TSgt. YYYYYY were carrying out maintenance on an F-15C based at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, when YYYYY accidentally crossed flight control rods while reinstalling them. XXXX did not catch the miscue, which made the airplane impossible to control in the air. It subsequently crashed, killing Maj. Donald G. Lowry Jr. (Great GUY!!)
Air Force authorities charged XXXX and YYYYY with dereliction of duty and negligent homicide. XXXXX shot himself in October 1996 during a break in court proceedings. Commanding officers then accepted YYYYY request for administrative separation, on grounds that the interests of the service would be best served by bringing the tragic case to a swift conclusion.
Similar crossed-rod cases occurred at least twice before the Spangdahlem crash, noted the review board-once in 1986 and again in 1991. But in both instances the problem was caught before takeoff.
In its conclusions, the board stated, “After the Black Hawk shootdown [in 1994], the demand for accountability for this accident may have been pursued with such zeal as to leave fairness and equity behind. The fatal crash was a tragedy waiting to happen, yet the decedent was singled out to pay for an accident that could have been prevented anywhere along the ‘chain of events’ had any of the numerous individuals involved made different decisions.
“Most disturbing was the way the Air Force leadership allowed this case to be handled. The Air Force’s representatives resisted the inclusion of potentially exculpatory evidence from the review and report and managed to have a good deal of it excluded from consideration in the pending trial.”
Following the death of Lowry, the Air Force took steps to prevent such a mix-up from happening again. The control rods are now color-coded to ensure proper installation, and the maintenance technical manual warns against the mistake. All flight control systems must now be checked any time the control rods undergo maintenance. ” “
Ref: Journal of the Air Force Association, June 1998 Vol. 81, No.5, Peter Grier
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: http://www.taproot.com/store/3-Day-Courses/
I’ll bring my WD-40 and Duct Tape for the classroom equipment.
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 reseting 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: http://www.taproot.com/store/3-Day-Courses/
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:
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: http://www.taproot.com/store/Courses/
To get you thinking about possible gaps in your root cause analysis program, view this presentation given at our 2012 TapRooT® Summit. http://www.taproot.com/content/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/RileyandGorman.pdf
Then check out the quality track in the upcoming 2014 Summit in April. http://www.taproot.com/products-services/summit
The next time someone says they used 5-Whys to investigate an accident, just thing …
5-Whys = Root Cause Analysis Malpractice
Because 5-Whys is almost always root cause analysis malpractice. If you don’t believe it, assign someone who is good at 5-Whys to analyze a problem and someone who is good at using TapRooT® to analyze the same problem. Look at the results and you will see what I’m talking about.
That’s the lesson learned for today.
Everyone is interested in research statistics but the following infographic asserts that some scientists may make up the data, distort the data … even cook the data!
What would you guess is the root cause of bad science? The infographic suggests that one may be that the scientist changes results due to pressure from a funding source.
Monday Accident & Lessons Learned: Root Cause Analysis of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, Unit 2 & 3 Replacement Steam GeneratorsApril 1st, 2013 by Mark Paradies
This certainly sounds like an expensive incident and you would think they would use a state of the art root cause analysis system. Instead, they used cause-and-effect. See the report and see if you agree that the “root causes” of the incident are:
I think the lessons learned is to get a better root cause analysis tool!
Here’s the Meridian-Webster On-line Dictionary definition of “behavior”:
1. a : the manner of conducting oneself
b : anything that an organism does involving action and response to stimulation
c : the response of an individual, group, or species to its environment
2 : the way in which someone behaves; also : an instance of such behavior
3 : the way in which something functions or operates
Another definition that I think that management has in their heads is a “behavior” is:
“Any action or decision that an employee makes that management,
after the fact, decides was wrong.”
Why do I say that mangement uses this definition? Because I often hear about managers blaming the employee’s bad behavior for an accident.
For example, the employee was hurrying to get a job done and makes a mistake. That’s bad behavior!
What if an employee doesn’t hurry? Well, we yell at them to get going!
And what if they hurry and get the job done without an accident? We reward them for being efficient and a “go-getter.”
Management doesn’t usually see their role in making a “behavior” happen.
Behavior should NEVER be the end of a root cause analysis. Behavior is a fact. Just like a failed engine is a fact when a race car “blows it’s engine.”
Of course, a good root cause analysis should look into the causes for a behavior (a mistake) and uncover the reasons for the mistake and, if applicable, the controls that management has over behavior and how those controls failed when an accident occurred.
A bad decision or a human error that we call a “behavior” isn’t the end of the investigation … it is just the beginning!
TapRooT® helps investigator go beyond the symptoms (the behaviors) and find the root causes that management can fix. Some of the most difficult behaviors to fix are those so ingrained in the organization that people can’t see any other way to work.
For example, the culture of cost saving/cutting at BP was so ingrained, that even after the explosions and deaths at the Texas City Refinery, BP didn’t (couldn’t?) change it’s culture – at least not in the Gulf of Mexico exploration division – before they had the Deepwater Horizon accident. At least that is what I see in the reports and testimony that I’ve reviewed after the accident.
And with smaller incidents, it is even harder to get some managers’ attention and show them how they are shaping behavior. But at least in TapRooT® tries by providing guidance in analyzing human errors that leads to true root causes (not just symptoms).
Want to find out more about TapRooT® and behavior? Attend one of our 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Courses. You’ll see how TapRooT® helps you analyze behavior issues in the exercises on the second day of the training. And you will learn much more. For a public 5-Day Course near you see:
Why Do People Have Problems Finding Root Causes? Read this Article – Under Scrutiny – from Quality Progress…February 25th, 2013 by Mark Paradies
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.
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®.
The best way to keep your Valentine’s Day romantic and fun? Make food safety a priority!
A recent article on StateFoodSafety.com notes that the best restaurant to eat in on Valentine’s Day is a clean one. Here are a few of their food safety tips this Valentine’s Day:
- Take note of the dining area and restrooms. If they do not meet cleanliness standards, it’s probably a good sign that the kitchen is also in need of more than just a light dusting. You might consider eating elsewhere for your own safety.
- Only eat foods that are served to you hot. If the food is served to you at a lukewarm temperature, chances are that it was left sitting for too long and has allowed harmful bacteria to multiply.
- Make sure the staff does not touch your food or the tips of your silverware with their bare hands. It’s probably not a good idea to let them sample your drink either.
- Be wary of meat, eggs, oysters, or other raw foods that are undercooked.
- Wash your hands properly before and after eating.
Photo courtesy of NPR.
Based on client’s request, we have scheduled our ONLY Public India 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Training for April 22 – April 26.
For those not familiar with the course, it includes the TapRooT® single user software (unless attendee’s company has a network software license), TapRoot® book, Corrective Action Helper®, Root Cause Dictionary & Laminated Root Cause Tree, Course Workbook.
Course Fee which includes a software individual license for each student is only $2,395 USD. Here is the registration link: Register
Please register 30 days prior to the course if you need a quote first to send to your billing department. Anything within 30 days or less must be paid for during registration. All course seats must be paid for prior to the course to hold the seat and attend the course.
We look forward to seeing our repeat clients and new clients in our only 5-Day public India course for 2013.
With many industries and natural resources located in Trinidad, System Improvements, Inc. teaches many onsite TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Courses. In fact, I will be teaching a 3-Day TapRooT®/Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting & Root Cause Failure Analysis this November with contract instructor, Mark Olson. I will be scheduling another 5 Day Course in Trinidad this the summer of 2013.
We get so busy sometimes in performing root cause analysis facilitations, courses and just plain business, that it is nice to see a reminder about why we want to make all industries safer. Pictured above is Safraz Ali, a student from the Trinidad Course, whom I had the opportunity to meet with his family.
Family, friends and the community are why we love what we do when we get it right!
Valerie Johnson is now certifed to teach the TapRooT® 2-Day Course to the ConocoPhillips Aviation Division. Valerie flew in from Alaska to Houston to get trained and upon return will be co-teaching with long time certified instructor Michael Rodriguez.
As a Senior Associate with System Improvements, Inc. with 18 years in aviation, it was a pleasure to teach the course in the Aviation Hangar offices. David Camille, also pictured above, was instrumental in coordinating this course and giving me the tour of one of their Gulfstreams.
R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co. prematurely filed Google Inc.’s earnings report with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday. Google’s earnings were supposed to be released after the stock markets closed at 3 p.m. Instead, they showed up on the SEC’s Edgar website about 11:30 a.m. Google’s stock dropped as much as 11 percent, to $676 a share, before trading was halted about 20 minutes later at the company’s request.
About an hour after the earnings release, Google issued a statement blaming Chicago-based R.R. Donnelley for the blunder.
(“Glitch on Google Earnings Report under Investigation,” Chicago Tribune, October 19, 2012.)
Why do people think that blame will stop incidents? Haven’t we tried that already? Don’t the incidents just continue? Share your comments below.
Mark Paradies and Linda Unger attended the Budapest Conference on EHS in Emerging Markets.
Mark gave a talk: Solving Root Cause Analysis Problems by Using Advanced Root Cause Analysis. Here’s some pictures of Mark Speaking …
Linda talked to prospective TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis System users and explained how they could learn about and implement TapRooT® at their sites across Europe.
TapRooT® Instructor, Michele Lindsay, answers a great question from one of the attendees of the 2-day TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis training course held at the 2012 Global TapRooT® Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Question from attendee:
I am presently using the techniques I learned to conduct my own RCA of the same incident we presented during the class and I had a question:
After grouping the conditions under each causal factor and working your way through the RCA tree on each causal factor, are you to only use the conditions grouped under that particular causal factor or are you allowed to use a condition that was grouped under a different causal factor?
My understanding is that you are to only use the conditions grouped under that specific causal factor and not reach out to other conditions from other “groups” as supporting evidence for the RCA. I found during the class that the practice of using other conditions from other groups as supporting evidence to say either “yes” or “no” was occurring very often and that puzzled/troubled me. In my opinion, if you were allowed to reach for other conditions not grouped under the causal factor in question, this negates the purpose of grouping conditions in the first place. Am I wrong in my understanding of the purpose for grouping conditions?
You are quite right that once conditions are grouped and Causal Factors identified, you really should stay within your “grouping” as you work through the RCA process.
- if the condition was put in under one Causal Factor, but applies better to the another, consider moving the condition (the “so What” test helps with this) or put it both places if it applies in both. Theoretically, if it supports a Root Cause, the condition should be associated with that Causal Factor.
- if one is wandering out of a Causal Factor and “poaching” conditions to support the current Causal Factor being analyzed, when you read the question from the dictionary that you want to answer “yes” to, then add “and that’s why … (then insert Causal Factor here). If the answer is “no,” you are wandering off, if “yes,” move the condition over, if “no,” then don’t select the Root Cause.
If a team does wander off and poach conditions from another Causal Factor, you may see duplicated Root Cause, for the same reason (answered “yes” to the same question) in 2 RCA for different Causal Factors. During your sanity check at end of the process you should catch it.
So the purist in me agrees with your conclusion, but the tool is robust enough to handle good use and weaker use.
Thanks for sending in the question and answer to share with others, Michele!
What if you had a system with two regular power supplies, two back-up power supplies (diesels), and a battery back up with a separate diesel to keep it charged?
Wow! This should be highly reliable right?
Read about how this system failed here:
Now here’s the question …
What did they miss in their “root cause analysis”?
I think they had great troubleshooting.
They even had actions to address generic problems.
But I don’t think they found the root causes of the “cloud failure” incident.
What do you think? Leave your comments here…