How to report near misses

Near miss definition
An unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness or damage – but had the potential to do so.
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An employee walks down the hall, stepping over an extension cord stretched across his path. He turns a corner and nearly collides with another worker. To avoid the collision, he steps to the side, spilling coffee onto the floor and inadvertently jostling a shelving unit, on which a tool placed close to the edge of the top shelf falls and hits the ground.
No one is hurt in this fictional scenario. However, the employees in it experience multiple near-miss situations – any one of which could have led to a serious injury.
Some people may be tempted to write off near misses as “no harm, no foul” situations. But safety professionals such as Jeff Ruebesam say employers who track near misses, determine how and why they occurred, and take corrective action can prevent similar – or more serious – incidents from happening in the future.
How Can Employers Encourage Workers to Participate in Near Miss Reporting?
• Create a policy and procedure that is communicated to all employees with the
backing of senior management.
• Promote a culture of reporting with the support and help of all managers and
• Educate employees on the reason why near miss reporting is a necessity, the
important role that they play, and the process for reporting.
• Ensure that the near miss reporting process is easy to understand and use.• Continue to communicate on the importance of near miss reporting encouraging
the participation of all employees.
• Use the near miss reporting as a leading indicator and report back to the organization on
the positive steps taken to improve workplace safety.
• Reinforce with employees that near miss reporting is non-punitive.• Consider incentives that encourage reporting and enhance the culture. (Incentives that
have the potential to discourage reporting must be avoided.)∙ An example of a good incentive is one that recognizes the participation of workers in the recognition and reporting of hazards. This activity helps to enhance a reporting culture, engage workers in meaningful safety activities, and continue a process of risk reduction. ∙ An example of a poor incentive is one that recognizes supervisory and management
performance based on outcome OSHA recordable rates. This type of incentive
has been shown to suppress reporting and can lead to punitive actions that further undermine safety efforts

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