Errors LO12273

Gerald Burch (
Wed, 29 Jan 1997 05:57:59 -0600

Replying to LO12231 --

I've been intrigued by this thread. David Nelson wrote regarding errors
in simple repetitive jobs. Daisy Patel suggested having team members
check each others work. Suzanne Deakins suggested the Bushist/Zen
concept of "being present on the job".

I would like to share my thoughts:

A similar situation exists in the safety arena where >90% of
occupational injuries and incidents are the result of the inappropriate
behaviors of people. Generally, people know what they should be doing,
but they go on auto-pilot or they forget or they feel invincible or they
get in a hurry or 1001 other quite reasonable excuses come into play.
For years, companieslike my own have tried to make safety an engineering
discipline, creating technical controls and procedures and rules to
prevent people from hurting themselves. A fairly recent development in
the field has focused on employee behaviors and attitudes rather than
engineering controls.

Called "Behavior Based Safety Processes", literally hundreds of
consulting companies have sprung up, each with a different twist but all
with a common theme. First of all, get people committed to working
safely by raising their standards and lowering their tolerance for
imperfection. Second, raise conciousness of their own behaviors by
allowing them to observe and monitor the behaviors of others. Third,
change the safety culture to create an environment where people do not
fear retaliation for pointing out errors and supporting each others
efforts to improve.(A Learning Organization for Safety where mistakes
are seen as opportunities to improve, not punish).

All of these concepts have come through in various people's comments -
low tolerance for error in a team based environment, team member reviews
in a supportive, non-threatening manner, and conciousness raising
activities, particularly in simple, repetitive tasks which can be done
in a "semi-concious" state.

At my plant, we call this concept "MY BROTHER'S KEEPER", and we have
enjoyed a great deal of success. Several other plant locations within my
corporation have used other consultants and themes with a similar,
behavior based approach, and they have also demonstrated excellent
results. My conclusion - this process works for Safety and I suspect it
can be equally effective in other areas of performance.

I hope this helps.

Gerald D. Burch (
Plant Manager
Hercules Incorporated
613 W 7th Street
Hattiesburg, MS 39401-1937


Gerald Burch <>

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