• Question: What Safeguards Do You Use to Avoid Mistakes?

    Asked by KateJ on 16 Mar 2021.
    • Photo: Lia Bucks

      Lia Bucks answered on 16 Mar 2021:

      Great question Kate! Engineers and their companies will have many safeguards in place which include a Quality Management System (QMS). A QMS aims to provide a rigorous process or system of checks and records which everyone in a company will follow and ensures there is a documented trail of approval which can be audited if something does go wrong. There are international standards which exist (such as ISO 9001) which a company can become certified in to show that their QMS is appropriate. A QMS tends to include steps such as peer checking of work, formal technical review by someone (or multiple people) who are experts in that area, a formal approval and sign-off process, and a testing/commissioning process. If the work has significant safety or commercial implications then this will all be planned out and recorded in a dedicated Quality Plan.

    • Photo: Ayla Cooper

      Ayla Cooper answered on 17 Mar 2021:

      Within our company we have a really strict checking and approval procedure. If I originate a piece of work it is then checked by someone who has more experience and then approved by the team lead who as 30+ years experience. This makes sure that everything we are issuing to clients is correct and to a high quality.

      As humans it is really easy to make silly little mistakes, especially if you have been writing a report for a couple days, it’s always good to have another pair of eyes look over it.

    • Photo: Emma Robertson

      Emma Robertson answered on 23 Mar 2021:

      Good question! We have a lot of processes and prodedures in place to hopefully limit any mistakes. Any piece if work I do is also checked over by someone else too (and equally I also check other people’s work).

    • Photo: Sarah-Jane Potts

      Sarah-Jane Potts answered on 25 Mar 2021:

      The others have covered alot of things that I have to do as well. As a research engineer who works in a wet chemistry lab, I also have to do materials and equipment based risk assessments to make sure I wear the protective clothing needed and use the equipment in a way that minimises harm to both myself and the equipment or anyone near me. When I am making inks I use alot of very nasty chemicals so I have to do a COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) form to check how best to handle the chemicals to keep me safe, then I choose the approprete equipment and labs to make them with. Each piece of equipment get’s it’s own risk assessment then I also do one for the overall experiment. With ink making I have to wear lab coat, gloves, full face respirator, do work in a fume cupboard and only allow people in who are also wearing the needed clothing and respirator to avoid them getting ill or hurt.

    • Photo: Anna Garcia-Teruel

      Anna Garcia-Teruel answered on 26 Mar 2021:

      Also in my work everything we report is reviewed by our colleagues.
      To avoid mistakes in the design of a new technology, apart from review and feedback from colleagues we use testing as a way to understand if the technology works as we expect it to work, and to understand if there is anything we had not considered that may make it work better or worse in the tests.
      Before doing any tests, however, we need to do a risk assessment, to make sure we are aware of all the risks involved in physical testing, and prevent those by using safety equipment, making sure you can turn a machine off immediately if something goes wrong, etc.