The goal of mistake proofing is to eliminate mistakes by modifying processes so it’s impossible to make a mistake in the first place.
Some error reduction in the work environment can be accomplished simply by reducing ambiguity, streamlining processes and reducing complexity. Simplification efforts reduce the opportunities for error and generally make for happier employees.
In general, mistake proofing objectives should have three major attributes:
- Effectiveness – Does the new design change reduce the frequency with which the errors occur?
- Inexpensive – The idea behind mistake proofing is to implement or reduce simple steps to resolve common errors.
- Easily implemented – Ideally you want to introduce design changes that are easy to accomplish without employee resistance.
The mistake proofing process relies on several key principles in fundamentally addressing mistakes, such as:
—Prevention, which modifies a product or process so it’s impossible to make a particular mistake. An example might be a clothes drier designed to shut down if the motor becomes excessively hot.
—Mitigation, minimizing the effects of a mistake. A smoke detector or fuse serves this function.
—Facilitation, perhaps the most used principle, which involves combining steps so a process is easier to perform and less error-prone.
—Elimination, is about doing away with an error-prone process step through redesign so the task or part is no longer required.
Mistake proofing saves lives in healthcare and prevents ruinous errors in industry. But the principles of mistake proofing can also be observed in everyday life. The invention of the pill box with compartments labeled Monday through Sunday was designed to prevent accidently taking too much (or skipping) daily medication.
The fry scooper came about to prevent giving customers too little or too many french fries.
The automobile and gasoline industries use several poka-yokes to prevent errors while filling up. Specially shaped nozzles keep drivers from accidentally putting leaded gasoline in a car designed for unleaded. Leashes prevent loss of gas caps. And noisy ratchets alert drivers when caps are on tight enough, while also preventing overtightening.
Want to learn more about mistake proofing? Tonex offers Mistake Proofing Training, a 2-day course that introduces participants to the fundamentals, process, techniques, and devices necessary to eliminate mistakes before they happen.
Besides Mistake Proofing Training, Tonex offers nearly five dozen other courses in Business Skills.
Additionally, Tonex offers 120 different courses in a dozen categories in Leadership training.
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