Safety Management Insights

Why Reporting Near-Miss Incidents Can Help Your Company

Posted by Don Brown on Sep 23, 2015 8:30:00 AM

near-miss-incidentsRunning up an icy flight of stairs. 
Tripping and catching onto something to break a fall. 
Jumping out of the way of an oncoming vehicle just in time.

Every day, workers narrowly avoid accidents that could have resulted in serious injury.

These near-miss incidents serve as a warning to companies that procedures must be reconsidered to avoid serious injury or death. Research has shown that major incidents typically are preceded by near-misses, meaning they could have been avoided had the near-miss been reported.

But employers will only know that these situations have occurred if they are reported accurately.

Here are three ways near-miss reporting can help improve safety procedures.

1. It Promotes a Culture of Safety

Companies may not have incorporated a policy to report incidents even when they did not result in injury or death. Most safety protocol is reactive, not proactive, so precautionary steps are not taken until an issue forces a company to do so. Near-miss incidents are often overlooked since there was no harm to the employee or damage to equipment or buildings. This is a lost opportunity to prevent future hazards, leaving workers at risk.

Company leadership can easily bring safety into the culture of the organization by establishing a reporting system that is non-punitive and can be anonymous. Training all employees on the importance and procedure of near-miss reporting can help establish this part of safety into company policy.

Sending out company memos or holding company meetings when an incident has occurred to discuss the issue and offer ways to stay safe will openly promote this type of reporting.

2. It Indicates Performance Efficiency

An incident often indicates whether a system is efficient. This is the time for employers to review their processes and make changes to prevent future hazards. A near-miss incident should be investigated to determine how it happened, what caused it to happen and how it can be prevented in the future. Any weaknesses in the system should be identified and hazards should be removed.

Employees should know to look out for damaged equipment — including fractured hand tools and ladders with broken rungs — and damaged property such as loose handrails or holes in the floor. Encourage all employees to report near-miss incidents by recognizing efforts to improve workplace safety.

3. It Will Help Avoid the Blame Game

Assuring employees they won’t be punished for reporting near-miss incidents goes hand in hand with encouraging them to report the incidents. Let them know they will not be in trouble, but should look at it as a learning experience. Employees will be less likely to report incidents if there are negative consequences or they feel they are putting their job at stake.

When a company puts reporting incidents in a positive light as a precaution for others’ safety and the idea of blame is removed, employees will be more willing to report and discuss the incidents. Make it easier for your employees by offering the support of managers and supervisors so employees feel comfortable talking to them about what happened.

The best thing about a near-miss incident is that no one was hurt and nothing was damaged. It’s important to emphasize that reporting near-miss incidents improves safety culture, strengthens the efficiency of your company’s procedures and makes employees feel comfortable with reporting incidents.

BasicSafe offers comprehensive safety software that allows you to track and manage all of your important safety reports to reduce the risk of future injuries and protect your employees. Contact us today to learn more or try a free demo.

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