What is Corrective Action?

Taking appropriate corrective action after an incident ensures your workplace is safe, functional and enjoyable for employees.

No company is immune from accidents, misconduct and other incidents in the workplace. The corrective actions you take in response to these occurrences, though, makes the difference between a functional, enjoyable work culture and a toxic one.


Download our free CAPA form template to organize and document your corrective and preventive action strategy.


What is a Corrective Action?

When an incident or “nonconformity” occurs in the workplace, management needs to take steps to fix it. A correction is a knee-jerk solution that immediately fixes a problem. For example, putting out a fire in the office is a correction. This action eliminates the problem.

Corrective actions, on the other hand, eliminate the root cause of the problem, preventing future issues. The corresponding corrective actions, then, address the root cause of the fire, such as fixing old wiring.

Think of corrective actions as improvements to your organization that you didn’t know you needed until an incident occurs. They rectify systemic issues to make your workplace safer.


RELATED: Building an Effective CAPA Plan: Your 8-Step Guide


Corrective Action Examples

In the context of human resources, corrective actions focus on discipline. For instance, an employee who harassed a coworker may face warnings, suspension or termination. These actions aim to eliminate the cause of the harassment by reprimanding the harasser.

Accidents or security issues often require more tangible changes to the workplace, such as:

  • Installing alarms
  • Redesigning or replacing equipment
  • Recalibrating tools
  • Updating work processes
  • Retraining employees on policies and procedures


Say you work in a garment factory and a dyeing machine frequently leaves dye patches on products. You’d correct this by replacing the faulty machine. Or, you work in a restaurant kitchen and fail your health inspection. Corrective actions could include scheduling more regular cleanings or setting traps for pests.


Determining Corrective Actions

Deciding on what actions to take after an incident should be a thoughtful process. While you need to act promptly, don’t rush. Create your action plan knowing that your solutions may not be permanent, but with the goal that they will be.

To determine appropriate corrective actions, investigate the incident’s root cause(s). Then, decide which actions could reasonably eliminate the causes. Use this 8-step approach when a non-conformity occurs in your workplace:

corrective action

Credit: Beacon Quality

Don’t forget to follow up after you’ve implemented your plan to ensure it’s working. Make necessary changes to avoid similar nonconformities in the future. Most importantly, communicate the changes you’ve made to employees. This keeps them in the loop and shows your commitment to a healthy workplace culture.

After you’ve implemented corrective actions, decide on preventive actions and put them into place. These are steps taken to eliminate the root cause of potential issues. Learn more about preventive actions and how to use them after a nonconformity here.


A risk assessment can stop issues before they start, relieving the stress of creating corrective action plans. Use our free risk matrix template to identify gaps and threats in your workplace to reduce incidents.