Anyone who knows me well (and many that don’t – sorry!) will most likely have found themselves on the receiving end of a passionate lecture about the differences between corrective and preventive action.
All too often, this is triggered when someone asks me (or I’m required to fill in a form) what preventive action will be taken to address a non-conformity that has been raised.
Corrective action is taken to prevent recurrence. To stop it happening again, either in this example, or elsewhere. It is learning from the experience of something going wrong.
Preventive action is taken to prevent occurrence. To stop it happening before it happens. In the language of our businesses, it is risk mitigation.
So, by its very definition, preventive action is not applicable to a non-conformity which is a problem that has already happened.
I often find it helps to explain problem solving like this:
So start solving problems and stop talking about preventive action for non-conformities… please!