Hurrying Is an At-Risk Behavior and an Error Precursor
Hurrying through a task is an error precursor and an example of at-risk behavior.
When does hurrying present a danger, a risk? When should you compromise safety? Of course, the only correct answer is, resoundingly, never.
Yet, we encounter many compromises of safety in the workplace every day: shortcuts, error-prevention violations, or well-intended actions in the effort to improve performance efficiency.
It’s easy to become distracted on the job—whether you’re performing routine job functions or something outside normal operating functions—perhaps, especially for less familiar tasks.
What should you do when distraction occurs and/or you feel you need to hurry?
One idea is to conduct a self-check. Self-checking is another component of work that helps a performing individual focus attention on the appropriate component or activity and helps to ensure that each evolution of work is completed safely. When used rigorously, self-checking boosts attention and thinking just before a physical action is performed.
All workers, subcontractors included, need to be aware of:
- their surroundings before they start to do work not typically performed at that location or at that point in the evolution, and
- that rushing can cause errors; for example, when they feel rushed because someone, or something, is waiting on them.
A case in point: Hurrying leads to undesired consequences
On November 6th, 2019, a subcontractor concrete truck driver was waiting at a security gate for an escort. While waiting on the unsecured side of the gate, the driver was trying to make good use of time by performing checks on the truck. The hopper was raised on the truck to wash down the drum fins during the checks. Upon completing this evolution, the driver forgot to lower the hopper and proceeded to drive into the security gate trap. The raised hopper contacted and damaged the overhead door. No injury occurred; however, the door was damaged, and repairs were needed.
Source and photo credit: OPEXShare, Department of Energy, Operating Experience, Lessons Learned, Best Practices, Idaho National Laboratory Operating Experience Program.
Where did the driver’s good intentions go wrong?
The driver was required to wait for the escort; therefore, he wanted to save time by conducting an evolution that is typically performed on the construction site. When the escort arrived, the driver hurried to get into the concrete truck and proceeded through the required security checkpoint. Performing work out of normal sequence and hurrying to get to the construction site contributed to the hopper being left in the upright position and subsequent damage to the overhead door.
How can we stop at-risk behavior?
The ideal behavior is to think before acting. Since we’re human, the questions still exist:
- How do we avoid at-risk behaviors?
- How do we think before taking a shortcut?
- How do we resist the impulse to perform simple actions intended to improve efficiency, usually at some expense to safety?
When performing tasks outside of normal operating conditions and/or when distracted, it is extremely important to conduct self-checking. Self-checking is another component of work that helps a performing individual focus attention on the appropriate component or activity and helps to ensure that each evolution of work is completed safely.
When used rigorously, self-checking boosts attention and thinking just before a physical action is performed.
Learn More About Improving Human Performance
Some techniques are better than others when it comes to improving human performance. Which ones are the best, and which ones should you be applying at your facility? We have a course that will help you learn the best techniques and learn which ones to avoid. It is called Stopping Human Error.
It may seem controversial, but YES, you can STOP some human errors, and you can reduce the likelihood of others. Also, you can remove Hazards and improve Safeguards to make the odds of a major accident very unlikely. We show several examples of how to do this in the Stopping Human Error Course.