We know that procedures are an important part of our safety system. We use them a lot, often multiple times in a day. They are also one of the first things we tend to look at after an accident or incident – ‘Did they (the involved person) follow the procedure?’ But all too often we don’t consider whether or not the procedure is still doing the job it was designed for – to be a barrier against human error, to help people do their job safely, particularly when they are carrying out a safety critical task.
Procedures can easily become out of date, or may have been written by someone who has never done the task required. They can sometimes be written by many people over many years and often, the easiest action to take after an accident is to update the procedure/s. Generally, this involves updating the procedure to effectively say ‘don’t do this’ which is what led to the accident. This is not particularly useful for a number of reasons. The first being that it relies on having an accident or incident to spot a problem with the procedure. The second is that it is only addressing the surface issue – that of the procedure – without considering why people may not have been following the procedure (if that was the case) or why the procedure did not work as a defence on the day.
The Keil Centre has significant experience in evaluating procedures, both before and after an incident, to determine if they are still an effective defence within organisations. Procedural review has many aspects and can include task analysis and human error analysis. If your organisation has problems with procedures, or people not complying with procedures, then contact us for help in improving your systems.