Reasons Workers Don’t Report Near Misses. 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.
Here are the top nine reasons, workers often don’t report near misses:
Believe it or not, fear actually may be the least common reason workers avoid reporting near misses. It’s true that some workplaces cultivate an environment where employees are punished for being injured, so these workers are unlikely to report near misses if they fear they will lose their jobs. Overall, however, this usually isn’t the most common reason workers neglect to report their near misses.
La Duke once worked with a safety director who called a particular employee “accident prone” and a “frequent flyer” based on her past injury record. If workers see their supervisors or coworkers humiliate those who make mistakes or experience incidents, they may be too embarrassed to come forward and admit they experienced a near miss. “We need to make our [workplace] culture one that accepts the fallibility of all people,” La Duke said.
La Duke pointed out that if an organization makes near misses difficult to report, with confusing paperwork or a convoluted process, workers won’t do it. Instead, supervisors should simply listen to the worker’s account of the near miss and then complete any necessary paperwork on the worker’s behalf. The difficulty is what prevented La Duke from reporting his own near misses – he ended up asking half a dozen people how to file a report, never got a straight answer and finally gave up.
Some organizations may ask workers who experienced near misses to attend committees or meetings to share their stories. While this approach can work in some companies, it also may be problematic. If workers suspect their near miss is going to trigger a bureaucratic machine of paperwork and meetings, they might rather avoid the whole thing. “People have a natural predisposition toward expediency,” La Duke said. “Don’t bog [them] down with bureaucratic rules and garbage.”
5. Peer pressure
“This is the big one,” La Duke said. Take the “frequent flyer” woman from an earlier example: If her injury or near miss cost the workplace its perfect safety record, which means all employees lost out on a cash bonus or prize, how will she feel? Peer pressure from other coworkers can drive near misses underground.
6. Loss of reputation
8. Lack of interest from the organization
When workers know the organization does not consider near misses important or take them seriously, they won’t, either. And if a company does not actually use the near-miss information in a meaningful way, workers will be less inclined to report the near miss.
9. Perceived as pointless
If a near miss was not particularly serious and likely would not have resulted in a significant injury, some organizations may consider the process pointless.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. No employee motivation
Employees aren’t interested in reporting near misses.
How to combat it: If your employees feel comfortable giving their names when reporting close calls, consider praising them at the next team meeting or providing a small bonus for their help making your job site a safer place to work. If you’re using anonymous forms, bring in a box of doughnuts for the team to thank them all for their help. Whatever you do, make sure reported events are positively recognized.
How to combat it:
Make a near-miss report form and a physical place to turn completed forms in. Then, make your whole team aware of the system. Let them know that it’s their opportunity to suggest improvements, and that all suggestions are welcome. You may be met with a few jokes or laughs, but the potential to avoid real accidents is more than worth it.
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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.
Companies cannot have it both ways – claiming that near-miss reporting is important but then complaining when “small” incidents are reported. “We have a lot of work to do in near-miss reporting because we have to somehow overcome these very real issues,” said La Duke.
To encourage workers to report their near misses, La Duke suggests that companies frame near misses in a slightly different way: Position near-miss reporting as employee participation in making the workplace safe. If workers view the process as a way to offer ideas and suggestions for safety, their attitudes may change.
Incentive programs, meanwhile, should reward not hours worked without injury but instead offer workers incentives for discussing how to create a safer workplace. Because if workers feel free to report hazards and near misses, the result, La Duke said, will be “a better, safer, more efficient and more productive workplace.”
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