Have you ever experienced a “near-miss” at work – narrowly avoiding an accident that could have been dangerous, even deadly?
Reporting near accidents can help prevent the same incident from happening to a co-worker in the future, according to a 2015 case study developed by OSHA and the National Safety Council.
Near-misses offer a valuable source of information. They help to identify hazards or weaknesses in a company’s risk management program, that might otherwise go unnoticed until it’s too late and a serious injury does occur. An often-overlooked policy, reporting near-misses can significantly improve worker safety and enhance an organization’s safety culture.
Not sure where to start when developing a near-miss reporting system? A few best practices to consider include:
- Leadership buy-in is critical. Those at the top need to establish a reporting culture that reinforces the importance of identifying and controlling hazards at every opportunity.
- Employees should not be punished for reporting a near miss. Consider allowing anonymity for workers reporting an incident.
- Always investigate a near-miss incident to determine how and why it happened, as well as how to prevent it from occurring again.
- Use the results of a near-miss investigation as an opportunity to improve your organization’s safety system.
- Recognize that reporting near misses is crucial to preventing serious injuries and deaths.
A near-miss reporting system will not work without employee participation. To encourage involvement, OSHA and NSC recommend the following:
- Educate workers on why near-miss reporting is important. Be sure they know how to navigate the reporting process.
- Keep it simple. The reporting system should be easy to use and understand.
- Train new employees on the use of the reporting system.
- Do not let your near-miss reporting system fall by the wayside – actively communicate its importance to all employees.
- Regularly reiterate that your reporting system is non-punitive.
- If initiating an incentives program, be sure to avoid incentives that discourage reporting. A good incentives program will actively recognize the reporting of hazards.
- Celebrate your program’s successes.
National Security Council: https://www.nsc.org/work-safety/tools-resources/near-miss-reporting