Just for Today - Zero Errors
By Richard Komarniski
We all make mistakes — just ask any of your teenage children if you make mistakes. It is often easy to fall into the various traps that can cause us to make errors. We all make and will continue to make errors, but with the proper state of mind and body, we can and will prevent our errors from leaving the hangar.
The last of the Magnificent Seven posters illustrates an individual getting ready for a good day's work. Think of what you do each day prior to going to work. Do you take any time to prepare yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically for the tasks of the day? Some people use the few minutes of solitude they have each morning while they take a nice, hot shower to start preparing for the day in front of them. Others may use their breakfast time or any other spare minutes before they arrive at the hangar or job site to mentally plan their workday. This mental preparation helps to start the day with a game plan and a positive attitude.
In preparing ourselves mentally, we need to identify with the seriousness of our job. We have to maintain a positive and safe attitude as always, regardless of what is going on around us at work or at home. We must focus on our jobs and prioritize the importance of the task at hand.
We need to learn to focus on the job and prevent the common human factors such as complacency, distractions, stress, and lack of knowledge from negatively impacting our judgment at critical moments. To prepare ourselves mentally, we need to examine the support we require to ensure we are capable (both emotionally and rationally) of completing our assigned tasks without error.
Accentuate the positive
Setting goals and avoiding the distractions that constantly bombard us throughout the day reduces the possibility of making an error. Also, we should rely heavily on our positive attitude, our level of knowledge, and our specific job skills. And, let's not forget to leave our egos in the parking lot or better yet, at home. The result is that we will expect to have a positive, successful day and we will be in the right frame of mind to perform our duties and to communicate with our fellow workers and managers.
By leaving our egos at home, we will be able to work together better, trust each other more, and be more willing to help each other. With increased trust, we will have an enhanced level of communication, which is both constructive and open. With open communication, we can achieve the teamwork necessary to get the tasks completed proficiently, expeditiously, and, most importantly, safely. Without open communication and teamwork, we are doomed to be inefficient, less productive, and more likely to engage in unsafe activities. We will be a group of individuals, rather than an organization with common goals, working together, and focused on safety. For further advice on what you can do to prepare yourself mentally for the daily challenges that you face, consult the self-help area of your library or book store. There you will find books by a number of authors, such as Dale Carnegie, Zig Ziglar, and Denis Waitley, who have great ideas on how to maintain good attitudes and how to understand and get along with others.
To prepare physically, it is a good idea to plan the day's work and acquire the resources, tools, and parts necessary to complete the job properly. Part of the physical preparation is to maintain good health. We all need to attain proper rest and to eat a balanced diet before and during the shift. As we all know, proper rest and diet have a huge effect on our circadian rhythm (our daily body energy cycle). How we treat ourselves throughout the day affects our individual circadian rhythm.
Consider how most people care for their dogs or other pets. They make sure that their pets have proper rest and good clean water to drink all day long. They buy good quality food and make sure the animals have a daily exercise program. We go to great lengths to ensure our pets stay healthy. If you doubt this, just look at the size and scale of the pet food and pet products industry.
Now, how many of us ensure that we get the proper amount of rest every day? How many of us ensure we have good, clean water to drink? How many of us ensure we eat properly? (That is an article in itself). So many of us beat up on our bodies daily by consuming chemicals, preservatives, acids, caffeine, saturated fats, sugar, white flour products, etc. What is our body doing with all of these toxins? Our diet plays havoc on our immune system, which in turn controls our level of health. Treat yourself as well as you treat your dog! We are supposed to be in the preventative maintenance field, but if some of the technicians I know treated their aircraft the same way they treat their bodies, their aircraft would never leave the ground. Think about it!
How many of you have a good daily exercise program that helps get rid of the toxins and builds up your stamina enabling you to cope with extra hours of work or stress? We have a lot to be aware of and much to accomplish towards maintaining good, personal physical condition. When we look at error prevention and at the big picture of safety in the aviation industry, it can be quite overwhelming. Break error prevention down into little pieces or small tasks that you can understand and that you can act upon, and then we as an industry can make giant strides in reducing human errors. If we each take the small steps necessary to prevent human errors one small task at a time, one job at a time, one day at a time, then it will not be an insurmountable challenge and we will succeed in our goal of reducing human errors and improving safety.