It’s been estimated that for every lost time injury of more than three days, there are dozens of prior non-injury incidents. So why don’t workers report more near-misses so there are fewer serious injuries?
A new peer-reviewed article in the May issue of the American Society of Safety Engineers’ journal, Professional Safety, “Near Miss Reporting — a Missing Link in Safety Culture,” (download) lays out the reasons workers don’t report near-misses and how to overcome those obstacles.
The article, by Caterpillar Safety Services senior safety consultant Mike Williamsen, lists 8 barriers to near-miss reporting:
- The status quo factor: People grow comfortable with how things are
- Fear of punishment and retaliation: Even if there is no prior history of retaliation at your workplace, it must be reinforced verbally and through examples that there will be no punishment for people who report near-misses
- Lack of recognition/feedback: Managers often fail to follow up with the employee who made the near-miss report
- Peer pressure: Employees face pressure from their co-workers not to make a fuss
- Concern about record and reputation: Employees often fear that reporting more near-misses will make them look bad
- Desire to avoid work interruption: When a job has to get done on time, no one wants to be the person who causes a deadline to be missed
- Desire to avoid red tape: Many people have a natural inclination to avoid filling out paperwork, and
- Fault-finding mind-set: Managers have to focus more on future prevention rather than playing the blame game.
Williamsen suggests four steps to overcome these barriers:
- Define expectations: The expectation might be that all employees report unsafe conditions
- Provide training: Tell employees why it’s important to report near-misses
- Measurement: This process proves the saying that what gets measured gets done. Keep track of how many near-misses are being reported by employee groups (teams, shifts, etc.), and
- Recognition: Create a Crew of the Month award to recognize the top groups that took the most proactive safety steps for the month.