Signs are not Error Proofing
I saw this at a hospital lab last year, a great example of true error proofing vs. just putting up warning signs. “Cautions” and “Warnings” are lazy engineering, in general, with product design. Signs are not good problem solving in any process environment, it falls far short of true error proofing.
Image #1 was just outside the lab.
I'm sure putting beverages or liquids on top of the circuit break enclosures poses a lot of risk. I'm guessing that spilling would short out things, causing major downtime or maybe even an injury. The sign doesn't prevent anything. Signs are too easily ignored.
Furthermore, the sign doesn't explain “Why” you shouldn't put cups up there. As I've blogged about before, a key point of the Toyota Production System is the power of EXPLAINING “why” to people, not just asking “why?” This point is often overlooked or not talked about. Part of the “respect for people” notion is realizing that they are smart enough to do the right thing if you explain it. This sign says “don't do it… because management says so.”
Photo 2 was in a different hallway, some employee lockers, like you might see at a high school. Can anyone put items up on top? No! Because the top of the lockers isn't flat. It's error proofed. Items would just fall off. No sign required!
Think about your workplace. How often do you rely on warning signs, caution signs, or “because I said so” signs? Error proofing requires a little bit of creativity, but it's worth it. What solutions can you come up with?