For every accident that occurs in the workplace, there are just as many, if not more, close calls. Maybe a co-worker was pulled aside just in time to avoid burns from a piece of industrial equipment. Or, perhaps a forklift tipped over in the middle of a job and the worker using it was able to walk away unscathed. Situations like these are commonplace at just about every business and are referred to as near misses.

Specifically, near misses refer to any unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness or property damage but had the potential to do so. While organizations strive to avoid any kind of workplace accidents, near misses can provide invaluable insight into known and unknown safety hazards. This, in turn, allows organizations to be proactive when it comes to monitoring and responding to on-the-job risks.

Close calls or near misses on the job are valuable lessons in safety. A near miss is an indication that something is wrong. It’s a warning that a machine isn’t operating correctly, materials aren’t stacked properly or that someone has done something unsafe.

However, near misses often go unreported as employees often take a “no harm, no foul” approach to notifying management of accidents. This can cause a number of issues in the workplace and damage the safety culture. Here are some suggestions for improving the reporting of near-miss incidents in your workplace.

  • Create a zero-blame culture—Ensure employees understand that information collected in near-miss reports will be used to improve the workplace, not punish workers. Above all, employers need to earn their employees’ trust, empowering them to spot hazards in a proactive manner. Establishing clear roles and responsibilities for each worker as it relates to correcting safety concerns can contribute to a successful near-miss reporting program.
  • Communicate—Employees are more likely to report near misses if they know why they are important and how they should be reported.
  • Share feedback—Whenever you address a workplace hazard, it’s important to communicate preventive actions to the entire company. Be specific about how the corrective action will improve workplace safety. This can motivate employees to report near misses as they can see that their suggestions are valued and help shape the workplace.
  • Incentivize reporting—Consider encouraging reporting through workplace incentives. For example, employers may recognize and thank employees who report near misses on a companywide level.

Establishing a reporting program for near misses is a simple way to elevate workplace safety. Not only do near-miss reporting programs protect your employees and save money, but they also promote a positive, safety-forward culture. If you have questions about establishing an effective near miss reporting program at your workplace, contact our Safety Director at (801) 443-1090.