Corrective action and preventive action are often used interchangeably or used as a single term CAPA (Corrective Action Preventive Action) by some people. Such pronunciations confuse the general public and sometimes the new safety officers or other engineers. Both require identification of the unsafe condition/act or problem but there is a difference between corrective and preventive action which shall be understood well.
A corrective action is when there is something wrong i.e. the problem exists, and a corrective step has been taken for the same. For example rectification of an unsafe condition at a particular place is a corrective action.
A preventiveaction is to identify probable risks and take such actions that the problem/risk doesn’t occur. Preventive action may be taken before the problem originates at a particular place.
In simple words it may be said that corrective action prevents a problem from re-occurring while preventive action prevents a problem from occurring.
For example a fire incident took place when a welder was welding at height and the combustible material was not removed from the workplace. During investigation the problems identified were: -
1. The welder was an outsourced employee (contractor employee)