Using Errors to Drive Safety, Quality and Productivity

Using Errors to Drive Safety, Quality and Production
[White Paper]

There’s no denying that errors and mistakes can be costly. The financial and operational implications, and importantly, the impact on safety is concerning. But errors also create valuable learning opportunities. For an individual operator, an error highlights gaps in knowledge or skill and offers a chance to develop new competencies. At a team level, errors between co-workers highlight friction in communication, coordination and planning activities. At the organisational level, common trends or patterns in errors suggest avenues to tighten up the framework of overarching procedures and processes that drive important business outcomes. In these ways, errors can be inherently good for business, driving improvements in the ‘golden trifecta’ of safety, quality and productivity. Adopting a psychological perspective on error management—namely, by promoting a social environment that is conducive to discussing and learning from errors—is a critical, albeit often overlooked aspect of organisational functioning.

Creating a positive error management climate is crucial to achieving exemplary safety performance. In this white paper, we explore how errors and mistakes can be good for business if used as a tool for continuous learning and safety improvement.


  • Error Prevention and Management
  • People, Systems and Performance
  • Profile of a High Reliability Organisation
  • Targeting Teams and Individuals to Achieve Exemplary Performance
  • The Success Profile of a Culture that Supports Error Management
Using Errors to Drive Safety, Quality and Productivity
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First published 2014. Last updated 2018.