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Root Cause Analysis Human Factors

written by: Jayant R Row • edited by: Ronda Bowen • updated: 12/15/2010

Root cause analysis into a problem will quite often identify human factors which are at the root of the problem. Root cause analysis human factors have to be tackled with far more understanding and insight into the conditions under which the concerned people operate and their training.

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    Root cause analysis can identify human factors as being responsible for a problem

    324px-LampFlowchart svg Root cause analysis is a method of conducting an investigation into a problem that has been identified during any process or action so that the basic cause of the problem is identified and measures are taken to set it right. The idea behind the analysis is to get to the heart of the problem, identify the factors that are causing it and to recommend solutions that address all of them. Solutions that are identified must translate into action over which there is complete control, for only then will the problem be completely eradicated.

    Root cause analysis human factors are by far the most complex and difficult to tackle. Other causes like technical matters, budgeting, and other resources are more easily identifiable and can be put right by the correct inputs. If these are identified as not amenable to a solution the root cause analysis team has to come to the right conclusion regarding its inability to provide the solution. It is however human factors that are by far more difficult to conclude and to provide solutions for.

    The process of problem solving has to follow certain steps

    • The fact that the problem exists and requires to be solved has to be admitted.
    • The possible reasons or factors that are causing the problem have to be identified.
    • Alternative solutions to the problem have to be drafted
    • The solution that best fits the existing circumstances and seems feasible has to be zeroed on.
    • The solution has to be applied and monitored to see that it is effective in solving the identified problem.

    Image Source: Wikimedia: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:LampFlowchart.svg

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    Identifying human factors

    While going through this process of root cause analysis human factors identified have to be related to the differences between the concerned individuals in the process being analyzed. These differences could be due to physical differences, individual capabilities and technical abilities. Individual behaviors could also become factors in root cause analysis, and may be a result of attitudes, lack of training or incorrect perceptions.

    Once these are identified as the root cause of the problem, solutions have to be found which would correct the human element by counseling, training or even induction of new blood. It is human nature to immediately look at a problem as a reason to apportion blame. What is far more important is to develop attitudes in an organization which look to examine the problems in detail and find ways of solving them.

    Root cause analysis human factors need to take into consideration the following factors

    • There is inevitability that human error could have caused the problem.
    • No one is immune to error, however qualified or experienced the person is.
    • Human error is a learning process and probably helps to make better persons.
    • Punishing people and blaming them is quite often counterproductive.

    Root cause analysis human factors would reinforce the oft repeated truth that human conditions cannot be changed, but the conditions under which humans work, can be. The root cause analysis team has therefore to address the organizational causes that have led to the problem caused by human factors and find solutions that address those causes adequately.

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