As an employer, it is ultimately your responsibility to do everything you can to keep your employees safe. One of the pieces to that complicated puzzle is reporting (and learning from) near miss incidents. In this article, you’ll get answers to the following questions:
- What exactly is a near miss?
- Why don’t employees report near misses?
- Are there any benefits of near miss reporting?
- What are the consequences if we don’t report near misses?
- How can I get my employees to report near misses?
Read on for everything you need to know about these near miss safety topics.
What Is a Near Miss?
A near miss is an unplanned incident that almost (or could have) resulted in injury, illness, or damage. The only reason the incident didn’t occur is that there was a break in the chain of events. In other words, a near miss is the same as a “close call” or “narrow escape.” These types of events occur every day at the workplace, but since some industries are more prone to working in dangerous conditions, the stakes are higher.
The Benefits of Near Miss Reporting
One benefit of reporting near misses is that they are often precursors to actual harm or damage. After an incident, you don’t want to hear yourself saying, “I should’ve seen that coming.” Everyone should learn from each other’s experiences, and near miss reporting is a practical way to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.
Another benefit is that near miss reporting allows the capture of data that can be used for analyzing statistics, studying correlations, marking trends, and measuring performance improvement over baseline.
The Consequences of Not Reporting Near Misses
The consequences of not reporting near misses are worse than missing out on data capture. When people’s lives are at stake, everything possible must be done to ensure workers go home to their families at the end of the day.
Other consequences include poor brand reputation and high insurance premiums, which both enact a high cost.
Why Employees Don’t Report Near Misses
Typically, there are three main reasons employees don’t report near misses:
- They don’t want to admit they weren’t following safety procedures, or don’t want to be accused of making a mistake.
- They have a feeling of invincibility, indifference, or ignorance about the situation and if it was substantial enough to report.
- They don’t have support from their coworkers or supervisor to report because it's not treated as a priority.
7 Ways to Get Employees to Report Near Misses
Now that you know the significance of near misses, it’s time to figure out how you can better support your employees in reporting them. Here are seven ways to do just that.
1. Make It a Culture Thing
There must be buy-in from the top down when it comes to reporting on safety. Policies and procedures should be in place, but company culture goes far beyond the written word. Start by utilizing near-miss reporting in various ways throughout the company. For example, use it as a leading indicator of safety performance, as part of your hazard identification system, and as a way to engage employees at all levels.
2. Start Meetings with a Near Miss Safety Topic
You want everyone in the organization to communicate freely on this topic. Your managers should be bringing up the subject frequently and even sharing their own experiences. One way to do this is by starting your weekly meetings with a “Safety Share” where someone explains an experience they had with a near miss. Perhaps a gas line was mismarked on a job site or an employee nearly tripped over an extension cord. Telling these stories doesn’t only capture everyone’s attention at the get-go of a meeting, but reminds everyone to “be safe out there”.
3. Keep It Simple
Often, all that’s required to report a near miss is a quick phone call to your company’s near miss hotline. If you don’t have a hotline in place, consider creating one because it’s easy and effective. It may also negate the need for paperwork (which never gets filled out, turned in, or processed) and interviews (which are often avoided at all costs). Whatever method you use, keep it short and simple.
4. Train Employees on the How and Why of the Reporting Process
Whatever process you have in place for reporting, make sure your employees know what it is and feel comfortable doing it. However, training in a procedure is not enough. You also need to educate employees on the reasons why you need them to report and how it plays an important role in the safety of each employee in the company.
5. Improve Safety Systems and Reduce Risks
Employees will figure out very quickly if reporting near misses actually makes a difference, or if it’s just all talk. If procedures and attitudes don’t change after an incident is reported, then reporting is sure to decline. Show your employees that you take their safety and compliance seriously by acting on what is reported to improve systems and reduce risks.
6. Don’t Punish or Reward Reporting
Punishing employees who are involved in or who report a near miss is a sure way to send the message that their safety is not the company’s top priority. Rather, it communicates that people are expendable and profits are pushed above all else. You will encounter lower employee loyalty and a bad rep if this is the attitude being taken. While some companies have limited success offering incentives for reporting, more often than not this practice can be misused for a variety of reasons. Overall, it’s best to let the natural, positive outcomes of near misses speak for themselves.
7. Celebrate Successes
Whenever someone experiences a near miss, celebrate the fact that it was a miss. Then, celebrate the fact that the near miss was reported. If the paradigm is shifted to make the miss a positive learning experience, it will encourage higher safety standards and will be counted as a success.
After implementing the above advice, employees will feel empowered and proud to be part of a safe team that is proactive about prevention and utilizes cutting-edge health and safety management practices. To learn more about Avetta's commitment to health and safety visit our website, call 844-633-3801, or email [email protected]