Provide Incentives to Encourage the Reporting of Near Misses - Safetip #158

Safety Tip and Best Practice
February 06, 2019
By Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

This week’s Safetip is about providing incentives to encourage workers to report near misses.

Near Miss Reporting as a Leading Indicator

ISO 45001 defines a near miss as “A work-related incident where no injury or ill health occurs, but which has the potential to cause these.”

Unlike an accident that resulted in a fatality, injury, illness, or property damage, a near miss does not result in severe consequences, but can provide valuable information to improve safety. Also, based on how you use information on near misses, they can be either lagging or leading indicators.

Whereas metrics such as injuries and illnesses are lagging indicators because they measure what has already happened, the number of reported near misses can be used as a leading indicator. Leading indicators are proactive, preventative and predictive measures that provide information about the performance of activities that aim to help prevent incidents and improve safety.

Near misses have potentially predictive qualities because they can help uncover hazards, risks, process weaknesses and patterns that can be addressed to avoid future incidents. This is why near miss reporting should be encouraged.

Use Incentives the Right Way

Allowing workers to report near misses anonymously is one way to encourage participation in a near miss reporting program. Another way is to offer incentives. Examples include awards, plaques recognizing employee contributions, participation in a draw, points-based programs that provide prizes, etc. Incentives show that near miss reporting is valued in the organization.

However, be careful that incentives do not suppress reporting or reduce the quality of reported near misses. For example, using quotas is a bad idea because it can lead to a situation where employees seek to simply meet the quota rather than report near misses with valuable information. Or they may “drop their guards” and be less eager to report near misses once the quota is met. It’s better to reward workers for the quality of reported near misses, more than the quantity, although a hybrid approach can also work.

Also, when implementing incentives, remember that they are only one method for increasing participation. They will not work when used alone. Internal motivators should also be used, e.g. giving workers the opportunity to prevent injuries and potentially save lives by reporting near misses, thus playing an active role in workplace safety.

Finally, another way to encourage workers to report near misses is by making it as easy as possible. For example, workers can quickly report near misses from anywhere, at any time, and even while working offline, through a safety mobile app. Users can also describe near misses hands-free through speech-to-text, and attach media files (images, videos, audio).

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Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

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