For businesses in high-risk industries, a near miss accident is a valuable learning opportunity that does not come at the expense of serious injury or property loss. Employees should always be encouraged to report these incidents, as they provide rare insight into hazards that haven’t been adequately mitigated. Employers should consider some of the reasons why workers fail to report near miss incidents so they can develop their own system to work around these pitfalls.
1. Insufficient Policies and Procedures
One of the first things employers need to do is set up an accessible system for reporting near misses. Creating template documents guides workers towards important information and encourages discussion of relevant details as they actually write the report.
Companies also need to establish timetables and accountability throughout their organizational structure to ensure these reports are actually used to evaluate and address workplace risks.
2. No Support from Management
Managers and supervisors play a pivotal role in the adoption of any workplace system or policy, so they are central to successful reporting practices within larger organizations. They are also the ones that generally hold individual workers accountable and motivate them to follow company protocols. Company leaders should train and communicate with all management personnel to emphasize the importance of good reporting practices.
3. Fear of Punitive Action
Some near miss accidents don’t just reveal flaws in the work environment, but also mistakes made by employees. If these mistakes were an obvious act of carelessness or incompetence, workers involved may be reluctant to submit this information to their employers.
While some behavior warrants disciplinary action regardless of the end result, companies also need to consider leniency in their policy to encourage workers to fully report all relevant incidents.
4. Social Pressure from Coworkers
Workers aren’t just worried about being suspended or losing their job, some also avoid reporting out of fear of social backlash from coworkers. This is particularly true for team projects where all members could be linked to the cause of the accident.
It could also be as simple as wanting to avoid the embarrassment or loss of reputation that could result from awareness of a silly mistake. The best way to address social factors is to educate workers about the importance of near miss reporting and how it directly impacts their safety.
5. Lack of Awareness
Another reason workers may fail to deliver adequate reports is because they simply don’t know what constitutes a near miss or aren’t aware that it happened. Situational awareness is an essential trait in any occupation with hazardous conditions, so all employees should be trained to recognize potential dangers. They also need to know how to identify a near-miss by thinking about the potential consequences of a particular action or situation under different circumstances.
Don’t Miss Out on Near Misses
Crafting and implementing a balanced program that incentivizes near miss reporting should be a priority for any company in the manufacturing, construction or energy industries.
As comprehensive workplace safety consultants, Pharma-Safe Industrial Services helps many of our clients create policies that facilitate healthy reporting practices at all levels. We help companies leverage the full value of near miss incidents as opportunities to create safer and more stable work environments.