Types of Human Errors and How to Avoid Them

We all make mistakes. In fact, it’s an inevitable part of life. However, making mistakes can be costly when it comes to our work. This blog post will discuss the different types of human errors and how you can avoid them. By understanding the different types of errors that people make, you can put in place measures to ensure that these errors don’t impact your business adversely.

Types of Human Errors Human Errors

Human errors are a leading cause of accidents and incidents in the workplace. They can be caused by various factors, including fatigue, stress, distraction, and poor training. By understanding human error causes, you can take steps to prevent them from happening in your workplace.

There are two main types of human error:

  • Slips and lapses,
  • Mistakes

Slips and lapses

These are very similar in that they are caused by a momentary memory loss, often due to lack of attention or loss of concentration. They are not related to training, experience, or motivation levels, and they can usually be reduced by redesigning the job or equipment or minimizing distractions. 

Slips are failures to carry out the correct actions of a task. Examples include using the incorrect switch, reading the wrong dial, or selecting the incorrect component for an assembly. A slip also describes an action taken early or late within a given working procedure. 

Lapses are failures to carry out particular actions which may form part of a working procedure. A fork-lift truck driver leaving the keys in the ignition lock of his truck is an example of a lapse, as is the failure to replace the petrol cap on a car after filling it with petrol. Lapses may be reduced by redesigning equipment so that, for example, an audible horn indicates the omission of a task. They may also be reduced significantly by the use of detailed checklists. 

How to Avoid Slips and lapses?

There are a few things you can do to avoid slips and lapses:

  • Stay aware of your surroundings and be mindful of potential hazards.
  • Pay attention to your footing, and be sure to wear proper footwear.
  • Use caution when walking on wet or icy surfaces.
  • Be extra careful when carrying objects or activities requiring balance or coordination.
  • Take your time and avoid rushing.
  • If you feel tired or fatigued, take a break.

If you are in a slip or fall accident, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Even if you don’t think you are seriously injured, it is always best to avoid caution and get checked out by a doctor. Suppose you have suffered any injuries due to a slip or fall. In that case, you may also want to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options.

Human Errors


Mistakes occur when an incorrect action occurs, but the person involved believes the action to be correct. A mistake involves an incorrect judgment.

There are two types of mistakes

  1. Rule-based Mistakes
  2. Knowledge-Based Mistakes

1. Rule-based Mistakes

Rule-based mistakes occur when a rule or procedure is remembered or applied incorrectly. These mistakes usually happen when, due to an error, the rule normally used no longer applies. For example, a particular job requires counting items into groups, often followed by adding together the groups so that the total number of items may be calculated. If one of the groups is miscounted, the final total will be incorrect even though the rule has been followed.

2. Knowledge-Based Mistakes

Knowledge-based mistakes occur when well-tried methods or calculation rules are used inappropriately. For example, the depth of the foundations required for a particular building was calculated using a formula. The formula assumed clay soil was used to calculate the foundation depth in sandy soil. The resultant building was unsafe. 

The HSE has suggested the following points to consider when the potential source of human errors is to be identified: 

  • What human errors can occur with each task? 
  • There are formal methods available to help with this task. What influences are there on performance? 
  • Typical influences include time pressure, design of controls, displays and procedures, training and experience, fatigue, and levels of supervision. 
  • What are the consequences of the identified errors? What are the significant errors? 
  • Are there opportunities for detecting each error and recovering it? 
  • Are there any relationships between the identified errors? 
  • Could the same error be made on more than one item of the equipment due, for example, to the incorrect calibration of an instrument? 

Using instruction, training, and relevant information can reduce errors and mistakes. However, communication can also be problematic, particularly during shift handover times. Environmental and organizational factors involving workplace stress will also affect error levels. 

The following steps are suggested to reduce the likelihood of human error: 

  • Examine and reduce workplace stressors (e.g., noise, poor lighting), increasing the frequency of errors. 
  • Examine and reduce social or organizational stressors (e.g., insufficient staffing levels, peer pressure). 
  • Design plant and equipment to reduce error possibilities – poorly designed displays, ambiguous instructions. 
  • Ensure that there are effective training arrangements. 
  • Simplify any complicated or complex procedures. 
  • Ensure that there is adequate supervision, particularly for inexperienced or young trainees. 
  • Check that job procedures, instructions, and manuals are clear and kept up to date. 
  • Include the possibility of human error when undertaking the risk assessment. 
  • Isolate the human error element of any accident or incident and introduce measures to reduce the risk of a repeat. 
  • Monitor the effectiveness of any measures taken to reduce errors. 

How to Avoid Mistakes

One of the most common causes of accidents is human error. People make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes can have catastrophic consequences. Some errors are due to a lack of knowledge or experience, while others are simply careless mistakes. Either way, human error is one of the leading causes of accidents, and it’s important to be aware of the potential for mistakes when you’re working with machinery or other potentially dangerous equipment.

There are a few steps you can take to help reduce the chances of human error causing an accident. First, make sure that you understand all the safety procedures and protocols associated with whatever task you’re performing. If you don’t understand something, ask questions until you do. Second, take your time and don’t rush. Rushing increases the chances of making a mistake. And finally, pay attention to what you’re doing. It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to get distracted when you’re performing a repetitive task. If you stay focused, you’re less likely to make a mistake.

Human error is unavoidable, but by taking some simple precautions, you can help reduce the chances of it causing an accident. Stay safe out there!

Creating a culture where people feel comfortable reporting mistakes and near-misses is also important. Too often, people are afraid to speak up because they don’t want to be seen as incompetent or careless. But if we can create an environment where people feel comfortable admitting when they’ve made a mistake, we can help everyone learn from those mistakes and avoid them in the future.

About Raja Umer

I have accumulated over four years of experience in the safety industry, which enables me to bring substantial knowledge and expertise to any organization I collaborate with. My previous work involved partnering with diverse businesses, from construction sites to general industries. As a result, I recognize the crucial significance of ensuring safety measures are in place to safeguard workers and customers.

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