An 8D Report usually contains three types of actions: containment actions, corrective actions and preventive actions. Although they all look similar at first sight, there are differences. 8D Report is mostly used to solve customer complaints and other quality deviation-related problems.

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In this post I will try to explain the difference between containment, corrective and preventive actions by using a more common example – a car accident.

Let’s say you have arrived at a car crash scene immediately after an accident. What would be the appropriate containment, corrective and preventive actions to take?

Containment Actions

In a car accident our first concern is usually to prevent other cars from crashing by marking the crash site with a red triangle. When other drivers have been warned check if somebody has been injured. If needed, call 911 and ask for help and provide first aid to injured persons. If you see that your help is not needed, withdraw yourself so as not to impede.

The goal of interim containment actions is to define the problem extent and try to limit it. Problem effects have to be restrained and prompt action is important. In quality deviations our first response should be to protect the customer. Interim containment actions are a “first aid” that protects the customer from the problem until we define the root cause and implement permanent corrective actions.

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Corrective Actions

Corrective actions can differ depending on the root cause of the accident. If a driver was drunk he should be included in a treatment program and his driving privileges should be revoked or limited. Similar treatment should be applied in the case of speeding. If a cause of the accident was a bad road infrastructure it should be repaired – road markings should be restored, road signs should be replaced, a new layer of asphalt may be needed, etc.

The goal of corrective actions is to remove the root cause and prevent a concrete problem from ever happening again. Corrective actions are directed to a concrete event that happened in the past. When the right corrective actions are taken all root causes of the problem should be eliminated.

Preventive Actions

Preventive actions are proactive and oriented towards a potential problem in the future. They improve a process or a product to prevent a problem from ever happening. Some of the preventive actions related to traffic safety could be:

- increasing awareness of the harmful effects of alcohol and drugs,

- high penalties for driving too fast or driving drunk,

- replacing dangerous cross intersections with roundabouts

- informational videos about the most common driving mistakes and difficulties, like incorrect lane changing, insufficient safety distance, safe overtaking, safe driving in tunnels, driving in bad weather conditions, etc.

Often, concrete problems encourage us to think about other related problems that could arise. A concrete problem could encourage us to think if the same causes could apply to problems in related products or processes. Preventive actions remove causes for a potential problem and prevent it and related problems from ever happening.

To summarize the difference between containment, corrective and preventive actions:

With containment actions we try to limit a concrete problem’s extent and establish normal operations. Corrective actions are retrospective and should prevent the problem from ever happening again. Preventive actions are proactive solutions to improve processes and products and prevent similar potential problems from ever happening.