16 JANUARY 2018
More near miss reports doesn’t always mean more near misses
A worksite free of near miss reports probably isn’t free of near misses. Unusually low numbers may actually point to employees who are afraid or uninterested in reporting them. Having regular near miss reports come in may make you feel like you aren’t making any progress, but it could be a sign that your team has the confidence and security to report them. Of course this doesn’t suggest that an exceptionally high near miss count is a good thing, but a steady, moderate number of reports may be a sign of a healthy work environment.
It’s a bad idea to punish near misses
You need to know when near misses occur, and employees won’t report them if they’re afraid of being punished. If you don’t know that unsafe behaviour is taking place, you can’t address it. And if you don’t address it, that near miss might become a miss (a full incident), and that’s simply not worth the risk. Rather than punishing for near misses, use them as a learning opportunity.
Consider keeping names out of it
Employees are less likely to report near misses if they know their names will be attached to the report. To protect their privacy, offer them the opportunity to report anonymously.
Employees may also be less likely to report if they feel they’re tattling on a colleague, so you should also think twice about asking the reporter to reveal the names of the people involved in the near miss. This will also allow you to focus on the underlying issue, rather than trying to pin responsibility on one person (if it wasn’t that employee, it could have been any other, but you might not see it that way if names are named). Focus on the issue, rather than the individual employee, and the result will be better training for everyone.
Near misses can clue you in to gaps in your training program
Sometimes near misses take place due to carelessness, but sometimes they’re a result of a gap in training. Maybe your team isn’t being taught a particular procedure properly, or there are unexpected challenges on a worksite that they haven’t been prepared for. If you’re seeing patterns in near miss reports, don’t assume it’s all on your team. Take a step back and see if the problem is rooted in training.
Capturing data effectively allows you to make changes
Reporting a near miss doesn’t mean just pointing out that it happened. What exactly happened? When and why did it happen? Is there a pattern? The more detail you have about a near miss, the better equipped you will be to prevent it from happening again. Be sure that your reporting procedure is set up to capture as much detail as possible, without being overwhelming for the reporter.
It’s also important that your near miss data is laid out in a way that makes sense and is easy to read and draw conclusions from. Invest in a good safety dashboard that not only stores data, but displays, distributes and interprets it in a way that allows you to address underlying issues.
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