When trying to solve a problem, it is critical to grasp the situation first. A causal factor chart is a tool that provides a structure to find the possible causes. After we understand what is happening, we will know where we need to look and what information to collect. This step is critical to finding the root cause of a problem or incident.
What is a causal factor chart?
This chart or map is a graphical description of the sequence of events leading to a loss situation or accident. It describes those events and the conditions associated with them.
Causal factors are elements that, if removed, would prevent the occurrence or reduce its severity. The causal factor charting process provides a structure to organize and analyze the information collected. It is efficient to find the causal factors of safety and environmental incidents, where the timeline of the events is critical.
Components of a causal factor chart
Incident investigation requires identifying the preceding events and conditions that cause the situation under study. This chart has three components, the main event or incident, preceding events, and conditions.
The starting point of the diagram is the main event or situation under investigation. A loss event or incident is any situation where the outcome and the expected result are not equal. In other words, the result is different from the standard. The preceding events are the sequence of actions that happen before the incident. Accidents rarely result due to one single factor. Instead, it is a group of events such as shortcuts, mistakes, and omissions. All these events lead to the incident or loss event.
The third component, conditions
Those events occurred because a set of conditions facilitates their occurrence. Conditions are those things that create the circumstances or ideal surroundings for the incident to happen. Some examples are the weather, equipment state, or a person’s state of mind.
How do you build a causal factor chart? That is the subject of a future post, but first, let’s discuss the best practices to create them.