Is getting employees to report near misses some kind of dark magic? Or luck?
Of course, we know it's not. Yet that's how so many EHS professionals approach it.
They put together a form. Upload it to the computer. And hope that, the next time a close call happens, their employees will fill it out.
...Except that's not how it works at all.
Successful near miss reporting programs have nothing to do with magic. If you want employees to participate, you need to give them a reason.
In this post, we'll give you three. Use them as the basis for your next toolbox talk to communicate the benefits of near miss reporting and convince your employees to track near misses properly.
What counts as a safety near miss?
According to OSHA and the National Safety Council, a “near miss” is an unplanned event that didn’t result in injury, illness, or damage – but had the potential to do so.
Examples of near misses:
- Slipping on hydraulic fluid on the shop floor and nearly falling
- Almost dropping a heavy wrench on your foot
- Knocking a board off scaffolding while people are working below you
- Almost hitting someone with a forklift load because the lever sticks
What are the benefits of near miss reporting?
1. It helps capture safety data that employers can use to identify and control risks before accidents happen.
Many safety programs are reactive, dealing with problems as they come up.
Proactive safety programs, on the other hand, look for leading indicators of systemic risk and work to prevent incidents before they occur.
Much like the way doctors check your heart rate and blood pressure to predict your risk of a heart attack, tracking near misses helps predict the risk of serious injuries.
Employers can use near miss data to improve training programs, develop safer work procedures, and fix faulty equipment that could lead to an accident.
2. It promotes a culture of safety in the workplace.
Employee involvement is one of the key differences between reactive and proactive safety programs.
When one employee steps up and reports near misses, others are more likely to follow suit. That small, singular action gets everyone in the company in thinking about ways to make work safer.
Reporting near misses also helps shift the conversation from “the blame game” to “lessons learned”, which translates to an overall positive work environment.
(Note: One way to reinforce this idea is to use near miss reporting software that allows anonymous reporting.)
3. Everyone goes home safe.
According to a report by Houston Business Bureau, CII and Exxon Chemical, there are around 1,000 near misses for every fatality.
Left unchecked, seemingly minor incidents can have serious consequences.
Think about it: How many times have you tripped over an extension cord or slipped on the stairs, and brushed it off as nothing?
If incidents seem to trivial to report, employees should ask themselves: “What if…?”
“What if that wrench had landed on my foot?”
“What if that had hit someone working below me?”
Reporting a near miss now can prevent a serious injury or fatality later.
Clearly communicating near miss reporting benefits to your employees is one way to encourage participation and build a safety culture. For more ideas, download our near miss reporting checklist.