Building a safer workplace depends on the ability of a workforce to effectively identify and admonish all safety hazards. When an accident occurs that does not result in an injury or property damage, but very well might have under different circumstances, then pay attention! The National Safety Council encourages the reporting of near-miss events. Reports should be filled out and reviewed after every near-miss event.
Why ‘near misses’ should be recorded
Record-keeping and a general assemblage of workplace happenings can go a long way in helping identify hazards within the workplace. Recording near-miss events is one step towards compiling a resource that can be used to track hazardous incidents, when those incidents occur, and who was involved.
Tracking the frequency and type of near-miss events can lead employers to uncover hazards that may otherwise go unnoticed. For example, if a series of accidents occur and all of the accidents share general characteristics (such as the machine involved/malfunction involved). If the same type of accident continues to occur, then it is a sign that there is some hidden hazard with the processes that cause the accident’s circumstances.
Make it detailed
A hazard could be lurking in the smallest of details. When recording a near-miss report it is crucial to be as detailed as possible. This is why the report should be completed as quickly as possible following the near-miss event. The person involved in the accident should try and recount what actions they took that may have caused the accident, if they heard any sounds prior to the event, what time of day the accident occurred, and other information that may be pertinent to identifying a potential hazard. Taking a report but leaving out details will not help in connecting potential hazardous actions and situations between separate events.
Promote a safety-oriented culture
To ensure near-miss events and other hazard-related events are reported employers need to keep employees on the same page. Creating a culture of safety within the workplace starts with a collective effort by the entire workforce. Employees may see it as a hassle to report near-miss events. However, employers need to make workers aware that recording such events is crucial to the workplace safety.
Getting Employees to Report
Employees may not always be apt to report near-miss events. This may be driven by a fear of punitive measures, embarrassment, or a simple lack of knowledge of the importance of reporting. Ultimately, the responsibility lies with the employer to make clear the benefits of reporting near-miss events.
First and foremost, employees should know that they will not be punished for near-miss events (barring, of course, any actions that break a code of conduct or workplace regulations). Furthermore, employees need to be aware of the benefits of reporting near-miss events. Employers may wish to hold a seminar or training session to discuss and explain the importance of record keeping. Employees who are on board with a culture of safety will be more likely to report near-miss events.
Employers, especially those at large companies, need to make sure all management staff are on the same page. Leadership is crucial in the installment and development of safety-oriented workplace. This leadership starts with the CEO, but it trickles down through every management position. Leadership within the organization needs to be on the same page and require the same things from the workforce.
Incentives may also increase the likelihood that employees will report near-miss events. Employers may wish to consider installing some sort of incentive program. These incentives do not have to be drastic, but should be enough to entice a wary employee to file a report about a near-miss event. Good incentives will simply recognize the participation of that employee, and their role in helping to promote a safety-oriented workplace. It is crucial that employers let employees know how important workers are to the success of the workplace as a whole.
Like many occupational safety-related topics, making the workplace truly safe starts with a culture that promotes safety for all. Getting your employees on board with reporting near-miss events a big step in establishing safety as the cornerstone of your work-environment. Don’t wait for disaster. Take action today.
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