Why is near miss reporting important?

Written by LetsBuild

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Near misses are usually defined as an accident or issue that did not cause any injuries or damage, even though things could have gone completely different and someone could have been injured and something could have sustained some type of damage.  While some people will call these things near misses, you may also hear them referred to as good catches, close calls, and narrow escapes.

Whatever you call them is fine, but did you know that you should always report them?  Yes, you really should report these close calls, because while you were lucky this time, you, or someone or something else, may not be as lucky in the future.

When you take the time to report a near miss, you are guaranteeing that others will be aware of what happened and will take extra caution when dealing with similar scenarios in the future.  It also ensures that some future injuries and accidents will be avoided.  Of course, when you reduce future near misses, you are also reducing the amount of money your business will be spending on:

  • Medical expenses
  • Time lost due to injuries
  • Worker’s compensation payments
  • Investigation costs
  • Equipment replacement costs

Most of the time, you may not even be aware that these near misses are happening, because employees are often afraid to report them.  They may be afraid of being fired or they may be slightly embarrassed that something like that happened to them.  Sometimes peer pressure is enough to keep a person quiet, especially if a company rewards its employees for excellent safety record.  After all, no one wants to be the person who makes everyone else lose out on a bonus!

Therefore, it is very important that you make everyone understand how important reporting near misses is.

5 Ways to Ensure that Near Misses are Being Reported Every Time

1. Act Like a Leader

As a leader, you must make sure that every employee understands how important it is to report near misses.  Walk around and look for hazards, then report them yourself to show everyone that you are serious when it comes to creating a safer place to work.

2. Understand Why Reporting Near Misses is Necessary

As you are talking to your employees, make sure that they understand why it is so important to report any near miss that they have.  This can often be done through proper training and by providing educational resources.

3. Provide Ways for People to Report and Stay Anonymous

No one wants to deal with the results of them reporting a near miss, which is why we recommend allowing people to do it anonymously.  You can get the details that you need, while those who are reporting do not need to worry about retribution from coworkers.

4. Investigate Every Single Near Miss that is Reported

It is important to investigate every near miss that is reported, because it shows everyone that each one is being regarded as being serious.

5. Use the Results from Every Investigation to Prevent Future Near Misses

Preventing future near misses is as easy as sharing the information that was collected during past investigations.  You can also use these results to make changes to ensure the safety of workers in the future.

Benefits of Having a Near Miss Reporting System in Place

Once you create a near miss reporting culture, you will start to see multiple benefits throughout your company.  And these benefits are slightly different than the cost saving ones mentioned above.

  1. Prevent tragic accidents or costly incidents from happening in the future
  2. Allows all employees to engage in solving potential issues for every problem and issue
  3. Reinforces the self-esteem of all employees and restores their ownership when it comes to safety
  4. Shares valuable information that would not have been discussed otherwise
  5. Creates a positive attitude when it comes to safety in the workplace

Create a Near Miss Form

While you have many options when it comes to how you want people to report their near misses, we find that it is best to have one form for everyone to fill out.  There are many different types of near miss forms out there, so you can use one of those or you can create your own.  No matter what type of near miss form you use, you will want to make sure it contains the following information:

  • The date and time of the near miss
  • The location of the near miss
  • Who was involved in the near miss
  • Who witnessed the near miss
  • What caused the near miss
  • What factors contributed to the near miss

As near miss forms are filled out, you can easily compare them to track and analyze the near misses that have been occurring.  The ones that you see happening the most should be the ones that you focus on first, while the ones that have only happened once can be left to work on in a few weeks.

Near misses should be reported the same day that they happen, so that they are not forgotten or happen again to someone else.  If you want to make sure that everyone is reporting their near misses, especially when this is a new process, you should have a meeting to discuss what happened that day.  If you cannot do this at the end of the day, try to have the meeting before work begins the following morning.

Everyone might complain about these meetings in the beginning, but once they see how helpful they are and how many near misses they can prevent, they will change their minds.

While you can easily review and keep track of all the near-miss forms manually, there are also plenty of software programs that can do this for you.  Therefore, you might want to consider all your options before deciding which way will fit your needs the most.  We usually recommend using a program, because it ensures that you do not miss something that is trending.  Plus, it does the work much faster and you won’t keep putting it off until you have more time.

If you haven’t been using near-miss forms yet, or you know that your employees are not reporting them all, you are going to want to use this information to implement this practice at your business.  We guarantee that the results will only help you improve your business, as well as the safety of your employees.