HR concerns with listing human factors as root cause

#1
Hello-

I work within an ISO 9001:2015 system. I have a manager that has reported root cause analysis to HR and worries that drilling down an issue to the root cause may cause HIPAA/ADA issues if that person has documented disabilities/etc. This person is coming at as saying that drilling down to a specific department (let alone title) is also inappropriate. We have used 5-whys and root cause analysis for years in our program. I was just wondering if anyone else had similar issues/concerns.

Thank you.
 
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Randy

Super Moderator
#2
So the person would rather you be dishonest than tell the truth......There can be an occasion when a disability could be a contributing cause regardless of ADA and any HR gobbelty-goop.
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Leader
Admin
#3
Welcome katefreeland!

It is easy to become confused about the intersection between HIPAA and ADA, and an employer's responsibility to each.

The basics are that employers have latitude to screen employees for ability to perform competently. Reading tests are allowed, as well as color blindness and math tests, the ability to lift 25 pounds from a squat 5 times fast, and other reasonable work related demands. (I have had to take all of these tests. I failed the 25 pound lift from a squat test).

But employees have rights too. Employers are required to ask if any accommodations are needed for them to perform their normal tasks (the ADA). Employers are expected to provide reasonable accommodations that are asked for (also ADA).

But suppose you sent your employee for medical tests. The records resulting from those tests are subject to HIPAA. The employer keeps the records secure. yet allow the employee access to them upon request. The employer still needs to provide reasonable accommodation if asked to.

After working with special needs students in middle and high school, I wrote the paper attached in the thread When Employees Don't Follow Procedures. Without going into repetitive detail here, I will say there may very well be reasonable interventions that we can, and should take to help out employees perform. We don't need to disclose medical records to stage wires at a workstation for a color blind assembler of wiring harnesses, or colored paper/Mylar overlays for a Dyslexic person. We do need to consult with those employees to be sure they wish for intervention, as I know of two specific cases that were discovered through nonconformity.

Please do not let this substitute for licensed legal advice.
I hope this helps.
 

John Broomfield

Leader
Super Moderator
#4
Kate,

Just like you and your colleague, HR also wants the system to help employees to do their job well.

Usually HR owns the recruiting process and they work with supervisors to understand the abilities, skills and knowledge required which are then matched to available candidates.

Certain tasks within work processes may be redesigned (simplified) or mistake-proofed so they can be done well by the workforce available.

HR may also own the training process to deliver any necessary additional knowledge and skills.

Stay focused on process and system design with due consideration for the community (interested party) within which your company operates.
 

Brakeman

Involved In Discussions
#5
In the automotive big five, assigning root cause to an operator is prohibited unless it was an intentional act of sabotage. The reason is that humans are fallible and usually do not meet 6 sigma level measurement studies. The supplier is at fault for relying on a mistake prone human for superior quality expectations.

Just as you are required to measure distance, run-out, angularity, and all the other GD&T specified measurements with something other than the average human eye, the repetitive patterned motion of a operator on an assembly line also needs a greater reliability than the the unaided human eye.
 

AllTheThings

Involved In Discussions
#6
If a person's disability or capability is causing quality issues, then I would ask why the process to evaluate their competency/assignment is not in control, or why the tools or work methods are unsuitable for quality needed of the combination of process and operator.

In the automotive big five, assigning root cause to an operator is prohibited unless it was an intentional act of sabotage. The reason is that humans are fallible and usually do not meet 6 sigma level measurement studies. The supplier is at fault for relying on a mistake prone human for superior quality expectations.
Yeah, this has been drilled into me over the years as well. A person is never the root cause. Gold medalist swimmers or sprinters would be LUCKY to hit a Cpk of 1 on their starts. Not only does root-causing to a person drive unhealthy corporate culture, but it fails to address the process that can be approved across operators. That being said, there are two person-based situations I have seen come up:

When I went through ISO-17025 audit training, the instructor said, in decades, he had only issued a finding against a person once. This person was grossly incompetent to perform the calibration they were asked to demonstrate in the audit. However, the outcome of this was also a finding against training processes, and the root cause in response to the finding reflected the training and competency evaluation gap in the QMS.

The other situation I've run across, and the only one that I think is a justifiable "people" root cause (aside from deliberate sabotage) is management commitment. If management isn't committed to a quality system, there is no hope for process improvement, and the people in the way need to own that cause.

I'm rambling again...Sorry :(
 

Ninja

Looking for Reality
Trusted Information Resource
#7
All good points...
help employees to do their job well.
In the automotive big five, assigning root cause to an operator is prohibited unless it was an intentional act of sabotage
If a person's disability or capability is causing quality issues,
So the root cause (ref this post as well) is how the system ALLOWED the mistake to happen and progress through subsequent processes...humans make mistakes, disabled, un-disabled, whatever... we are all quality-disabled from performing at 100% of ability at all times.

How was it physically possible for any human to make the mistake without it being caught before subsequent processes? That's your root cause, and what needs consideration to address. Then you're not involved with HIPPA, ADA or any other EO issues...
 
#9
Thanks everyone! Unfortunately, I'm now not allowed to do further internal investigations until our HR dept can consult with an outside source. The manager in question has always had an issue with asking why/how something happened and how do we improve the process, they just don't want any investigation done at all. At that point, I just need to bump it up to my exec leadership team, and have done so.
 

Sidney Vianna

Post Responsibly
Leader
Admin
#10
The manager in question has always had an issue with asking why/how something happened and how do we improve the process, they just don't want any investigation done at all
If top management allows for that prohibition to exist, you must realize that you work for a very dysfunctional organization. Any organization that is not genuinely interested in learning from the mistakes/problems is destined to struggle. Market forces normally weed them out, since, as the cliché goes: survival is not compulsory.
 
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