Thursday, September 26, 2013

Learn to Identify and Eliminate Risks at ASSE's Upcoming Symposium

In November, ASSE’s Avoiding the Worst, Fatality and Severe Loss Prevention Symposium will feature many sessions that collectively create a framework for identifying and mitigating occupational risks, but two courses in particular were designed to work together to give attendees a deeper understanding of human performance fundamentals and pre-task briefs that can help identify and greatly reduce the likelihood of serious injuries and fatalities in the workplace.

In Human Performance Indicators, Rob Fisher, president of Fisher Improvement Technologies Inc., will introduce fundamental human performance concepts and their relationship to fatality prevention, which will lead into Using Pre-Task Briefs to Identify and Eliminate Risks, a presentation by Ron Pryor, owner and principle consultant of Pryor Experience LLC, in which he will discuss using pre-task briefs as a mechanism to identify and eliminate fatality risks.

At the working level, many triggers can indicate the probability of error, Fisher says. Human performance is a science-based approach to aid in understanding the impact of people, programs, processes, work environments and equipment on overall system performance. It is not a new safety and health program, Fisher explains, but rather a process that integrates new concepts, ideas and tools into an existing EHS program. 

“Fatalities and catastrophic events are often the result of unidentified hazards or unanticipated risks associated with the work being performed,” Pryor says. “These hazards or risks may go unrecognized due to a lack of knowledge or experience on the part of the workers involved with the task, or because of external factors such as time pressure or distractive environments, or because of overconfidence on the part of individuals associated with planning, performing, or supervising the work.”

Research shows that there are 10 human-error traps (including time pressure, distractive environment, high workload, first time task, first working day after days off, one-half hour after wake-up or meal, vague or incorrect guidance, over-confidence, imprecise communication and work stress) that can significantly increase the likelihood of errors in a facility. By learning to recognize what the precursors of these errors look like, they can begin to be identified and corrected.

Fisher’s goal is to teach managers, supervisors and workers what these traps look like, how to recognize the signs that indicate these errors are imminent and give them the tools to reduce the likelihood of human-error related incidents. Understanding and implementing human performance concepts and tool, he says, can reduce the probability of error by a factor of 10.

Using pre-task briefs is among the first tools recommended. Applying this model, workers assess a task through a series of steps that encourage analysis and conversation before work begins to reduce the likelihood of human error. So while Fisher’s introduction will give attendees a basic understanding of the science and concepts behind human performance, Pryor’s presentation will provide practical applications. Pryor will pull concepts from Fisher’s presentation and explain how to utilize and assess those concepts in a pre-task brief and plan for either an elimination or avoidance of those issues before the task begins. 

For more on human performance tools, look for Fisher and Pryor’s presentation at ASSE’s Avoiding the Worst: Fatality and Severe Loss Prevention Symposium.