In this week’s Safetip, we address near miss reporting and how companies can kick start the process to overcome any reluctance from employees.
What is a near miss?
According to the National Safety Council (NSA), “A near miss is an unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness, or damage – but had the potential to do so”. Most incidents, both serious and catastrophic, were preceded by warnings or near misses, the NSA says. Many companies include near miss reporting as a to measure safety performance.
Reporting near misses is a cultural shift that requires employee participation
The first step for near miss reporting is to establish a reporting culture where workers are encouraged to report near misses. This requires a cultural shift where employers promote a reporting culture and workers take every opportunity possible to report near misses that help identify workplace hazards. Once new hazards are identified, risks of adverse events can be controlled and mitigated, thus preventing potential incidents and accidents.
Anonymity can help kick start near miss reporting
As with any cultural shift, it may take time for people to adapt. One main concern about near miss reporting is fear of retribution. Workers may be afraid to report near misses because they may feel like they are making the company, their supervisors, co-workers, departments, or even themselves look bad. Any near miss reporting must include a strong commitment by management, positive reinforcements and an acknowledgement of safety issues identified from near misses, along with corrective actions taken. But if there is still a reluctance to report near misses, consider allowing employees to report near misses anonymously. This can be on a temporary basis, until the reporting culture is firmly established, or you may provide the possibility for workers to report near misses anonymously at any time. It really depends on whatever works best for your organization. Ultimately, the goal is to encourage the reporting of as many near misses as possible, by emphasizing that reporting is non-punitive. If anonymity works, whether temporary or permanent, go for it!
Here are links to some additional resources on near miss reporting:
- Near Miss Reporting Systems (PDF document) by the NSC
- Near Miss Reporting: Applying Behavioral Science to Optimizing Safety Culture
Visit Enablon Insights again next Wednesday for a brand new Safetip!