What is the Correlation Between Root Cause Analysis and Swiss Cheese?

Updated: January 5, 2022

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What is the Correlation Between Root Cause Analysis and Swiss Cheese?

As long as humans are involved in running our organizations, there will be holes (vulnerabilities) in our cheese. This is why I state that we will never have American cheese (no holes) representing our safety systems, because this would imply they would be failsafe and not impenetrable.

The Swiss cheese metaphor is more appropriate because we as human beings are NOT infallible. We are not perfect and we must acknowledge that in order to progress.

The holes in the Swiss cheese represent vulnerabilities that our safety systems are subject to. Many of these vulnerabilities are identified through our risk assessments such as Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA). This is where we seek to quantify risk by assessing our potential failure modes in a system via the following simple calculation…


About the Author
Robert (Bob) J. Latino is former CEO of Reliability Center, Inc. a company that helps teams and companies do RCAs with excellence.  Bob has been facilitating RCA and FMEA analyses with his clientele around the world for over 35 years and has taught over 10,000 students in the PROACT® methodology.

Bob is co-author of numerous articles and has led seminars and workshops on FMEA, Opportunity Analysis and RCA, as well as co-designer of the award winning PROACT® Investigation Management Software solution.  He has authored or co-authored six (6) books related to RCA and Reliability in both manufacturing and in healthcare and is a frequent speaker on the topic at domestic and international trade conferences.

Bob has applied the PROACT® methodology to a diverse set of problems and industries, including a published paper in the field of Counter Terrorism entitled, “The Application of PROACT® RCA to Terrorism/Counter Terrorism Related Events.”

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