July 2, 2020 | Mark Paradies

What Are the Human Error Traps & Precursors? [Can You Spot Them?]

Error Traps and Precursors

Human Error Traps & Precursors

Do you ever see someone trapped into making a human error? Bad human engineering caused an error likely situation. Perhaps there was a precursor to the error – somethings that could be recognized?

After I finished studying Human Factors as part of getting a Masters Degree in Human Engineering, I went to work for a well-known chemical company that was a leader in safety to help them improve human performance and process safety. We had a discussion about things that could cause people to be more error-prone. My boss asked me if I could come up with a list of potential root causes of human errors. I worked on this and it eventually (three years later) it became a precursor to the TapRooT® Root Cause Tree®.

The question came up … Could we train people on this list of causes and could workers spot then and prevent errors? My eventual answer was … “No.”

However, about a decade later the nuclear industry developed a Human Performance Tool called “Error Traps and Precursors” that was very similar to the technique that I had decided wasn’t practical.

Let’s look a little more at this tool and see what you think about it…

Error Traps

This list of error traps and precursors was developed from industry sources and is taught in our Stopping Human Error Training…

error traps


and precursors

What do you do when you detect an error trap or precursor? You:

  • Stop
  • Decide which error-reduction technique to apply
  • Apply one or more of the techniques
  • Continue with your work

Does This Technique Work?

I already decided way in the past that this technique would not be effective. But why did I decide that? We teach that in our 2-Day Stopping Human Error Course. I had one reason that I decided it would not work well when asked to do it in the past. Now I have several.

Learn More…

To learn about this Human Performance Techniques and many others, attend the 2-Day Stopping Human Error Course coming up on September 15-16 in Knoxville, TN. We will teach all the pros and cons of the Human Performance Improvement Technology (sometimes called Hu Tools). The pros and cons are more than opinions. They are based on human factors research.

How can you sign up for the Stopping Human Error Training? Just click on the link below to get started learning all about human performance and stopping human errors…


Courses & Training, Human Performance
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