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What is a Preventive Action?

What is a Preventive Action?

By performing a risk assessment and taking preventive actions, your organization will be a safer and happier place for all employees.

Dealing with workplace incidents—from security breaches to harassment—is a reality for every company. You can reduce the number of issues you face, though, by being proactive. By performing a risk assessment and taking preventive actions, your organization will be safer and your employees will be happier.

Document your corrective and preventive action strategy with our free CAPA form template.

What is a Preventive Action?

preventive action aims to correct a potential problem. Unlike a corrective action, which fixes the root cause of a current issue, preventive actions try to address problems before they happen.

While they may be implemented after an incident occurs in the workplace, these strategies don't always focus on what has already happened. Instead, they try to eliminate the cause of a potential issue. According to the Beacon Quality blog, "preventive action prevents occurrence and corrective action prevents recurrence." Preventive is proactive while corrective is reactive.

Preventive Action Examples

Preventive actions are often less tangible than corrective actions. They don't always involve a visible, physical change, but are more behind-the-scenes instead. Some examples include:

  • Implementing new training programs for employees
  • Regularly reviewing and updating company documents such as policies, procedures, code of ethics or code of conduct
  • Conducting internal audits
  • Performing regular maintenance on equipment and machinery
  • Establishing "alarms" in your work processes that alert you to impending problems
  • Creating emergency plans for natural disasters, security breaches and other incidents

While it may seem easier to keep things as they are in your organization, change is often necessary to prevent issues. A quick annual review of your employee handbook costs a lot less time and money than dealing with internal fraud, harassment, accidents or other incidents.

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

Creating an Action Plan

In order to decide what preventive actions your organization needs, perform a risk analysis. This process identifies gaps, risks and potential issues that could arise from your processes. From there, make a plan of action to address each area of risk.

preventive action

Credit: US Department of Health & Human Services Office for Children & Families

The preventive actions you choose should improve your operations to minimize future issues while maximizing efficiency. By building in safeguards and changing your company's procedures, you'll reduce risk.

When deciding on appropriate actions, try the Plan-Do-Check-Act approach. Carefully consider what steps to take, analyze their effects on the company and make changes if necessary.

Following an incident, this process would also include corrective actions in a full Corrective and Preventive Action (CAPA) Plan. As you improve your business processes, you should need fewer corrective actions and more preventive ones.

One problem many people face when implementing preventive actions is the uncertainty. Team members may disagree on what changes to make because you don't know exactly what problems you'll face. Management may also be hesitant to provide time and financial resources for these projects. Because they don't have immediate, certain outcomes, they could be seen as low priority.