Near-miss reporting – Promoting proactive safety culture

Every day we experience near-misses in our home and work life. Your kids might knock you while you are carrying a hot cup of coffee but you somehow avoid spilling it on one of them. You trip over pipes lying across the path and narrowly avoid falling onto some shelving units which could have tumbled onto one of your colleagues.

In slightly different circumstances these incidences could have led to a serious injury.

It is important to consider near-misses as a zero cost learning tool; any workplace that identifies and investigates near-misses of significant severity are generally safer than the ones that do not.

Timely and accurate investigation of a near-miss is sacrosanct

Employers need to ensure that the reporting and investigation of all near-misses is promoted as part of the workplace culture. All near-misses should be taken seriously and reported consistently. Reporting of near-misses gives employers information about the overall effectiveness of hazard identification and management.

There are often many reasons why an employee is unwilling to report a near-miss. These include:

  • Fear of being blamed – the employee might not have followed procedures or was actually doing something they should not have been doing when the near-miss happened.
  • Indifference or apathy – employees may think the near-miss was too trivial to require reporting.
  • Lack of managerial support – Managers need to lead by example and report near-misses themselves; if they don’t treat it as a priority their employees won’t either.

Notifiable Events (death & notifiable injury or illness) under the newly framed Health and Safety legislation have now expanded to include ‘Notifiable Incidents’; which are incidents that have the potential to cause serious harm to a person’s health or safety.  This means all incidents, regardless of whether the incident caused injury or not, needs to be reported. This includes incidents that occur to your employees and subcontractors working on site. Records need to be kept for 5 years.

How do you encourage recording near-misses?

  • Make it simple. Use a severity scale to rate the near miss.
  • Don’t set quotas – Employees who have met their quota may ignore subsequent and potentially more dangerous near-misses
  • Offer incentives to report hazards or near-misses.
  • Give employees the option to report anonymously, in case they feel they are to blame.
  • Encourage team discussions around near-misses. What can be done to minimize the hazard etc.?

Management must lead by example and establish a reporting culture. Ensure employees understand that an investigation is not a blaming exercise rather a learning experience. We need to understand that the reporting will be used to improve safety parameters, hazard control and risk reduction to minimize the likelihood of a serious incident in the future.

ASK-EHS provides effective methods for near-miss reporting. We have an easy to use application to identify and assess hazards and put control measures in place for each work step. Call now to see how the ASK-EHS Near Miss Management app can minimize near-misses within your workplace.

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