Encouraging near miss reporting

Date Posted: 09/03/2019

Near MissYou want employees to report near misses, but you aren't getting any reports. Does this mean that near misses never happen, or does it mean they simply aren't getting reported? If employees won't report to you, they might still report safety concerns to OSHA, and you don't want that.

Hopefully, you encourage near miss reporting by making the process simple. If employees have to write up a description on a special form, they might not bother. Easier options may range from smartphone apps to simply calling a number and leaving a description, or making a verbal report to a supervisor who will later fill out a form.

Making the reporting process easy is a good first step, but ultimately, you need employees to come forward and make reports. Employees shouldn't wait until someone causes an injury that must be reported. Maybe it's time to stop waiting and start asking.

Start asking

Can employees recognize a near miss? This may sound simple, but if an "oops" situation is common, they may think of it as simply part of the work environment — and that's not good. You may need to describe the type of reports you're seeking.

During your next safety meeting, describe some common near miss incidents and ask employees if they've seen anything similar. Someone may have a story to share. Even something that happened at a previous place of employment could generate a discussion.

Go over the situation and consider how the near miss could have caused a serious injury. Ask employees to discuss what could be done to prevent those incidents. If no one volunteers a story, give a few examples and discuss them. Then, remind everyone to report any near misses, and explain that you'll address the reports as needed.

Provide for anonymity

Some employees worry that the person they reported will be punished, or that the person they "rat out" for unsafe conduct will retaliate against them. If that's a concern, setting up anonymous tip lines for near miss reports may prove more fruitful.

Anonymous reports may prevent a discussion during a safety meeting because talking about the situation might compromise anonymity. Still, a generic discussion of related safety issues may help reassure the anonymous person that no adverse consequences resulted, and that the company is serious about addressing concerns — and help you to show that punishment won't necessarily follow.

Reward the first step

Rewarding employees who make reports can also be effective. The reward doesn't have to be large; even a $50 gift card can encourage reporting. Make sure the reward is delivered relatively quickly (not weeks or months later). And when announcing that a reward is available, remind employees that they can still use the anonymous tip line (if you have one) but point out that if the company cannot identify the person making the report, it cannot reward that person.


How Safety Management Suite Can Help

Incident Center

In addition to helping you track recordable injuries for your OSHA 300 Log, the Incident Center in the J. J. Keller® SAFETY MANAGEMENT SUITE allows you to record near miss cases. The tool also allows you to sort cases by type so you can generate a report of near miss incidents and identify potential hazards. Once identified, you can address those hazards to prevent future injuries.



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