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Near Miss Reporting and How It Can Help Reduce Hand Injuries

by Julie on June 16, 2015

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A near miss is an unplanned event that didn’t result in injury, illness or damage but there was the potential for something bad to happen. Near misses aren’t generally reported unless a specific program is put in place to address them .

Safety organizations will often only focus on injures that have occurred. Near miss reporting may sound unnecessary and time consuming, but it can give you insight into predicting accidents. By doing this, you can prevent the next accident before it occurs. This blog explores near miss reporting and how it can help to improve your organization.
stepping on a banana peel


The Benefits of Near Miss Reporting:

Near miss reporting can help a senior management team identify weaknesses in their safety program and address them before injury occurs. This can save your organization money down the line.

Imagine there is a worker walking down a hallway. As the worker goes to turn a corner, a forklift is turning the corner from the other side at the same time. The worker is narrowly missed. No injury occurs but now the workers are aware that a potential for injury is there. Full-time or senior workers may be aware of these areas of risk but new or contract workers won’t have that same knowledge and will be at a higher risk.

By reporting this near miss, management can review procedures that are in place — does the forklift driver sound to horn to let people know the forklift is approaching? Management can also look at incorporating new safety elements to that corner, like installing a mirror in the corner to let workers see if there is anything on the other side.

Remember that a successful program is a team effort which requires that all levels of your organization be on board and aware of the goals.

Industrial Engineer - Near Miss


Your Definition of a Near Miss:

Any program that is going to involve near miss reporting needs to start with what it considers a near miss. Is your organization’s definition a situation where no injuries occurred or is it where a worker felt unsafe? Without a consistent definition, there will be no consistency in your reporting.

The best place to start is to define a near miss as any situation where an employee or worker feels that their safety was compromised but no injury occurred.


Encourage, Don’t Embarrass:

Employees should not be made to feel that near miss reporting is a negative mark against them. They will quite often be embarrassed or think that there was an error directly on their part. Reinforce to them that this is not the case. Thank them for their efforts in helping to improve the overall safety culture. They should not fear any form of negative outcome or punishment for reporting.


The Five Mistakes to Avoid:

Research has shown that unsuccessful programs all had five flaws in common:

  1. Upper management support without engaging front line managers
  2. Training failures from safety teams
  3. Near miss reporting is seen as non-value added work
  4. Lack of engagement for front line workers
  5. Invalid, missing or erroneous data


Keys to a Successful Program:

Now that we have identified some of the barriers that your near miss reporting program might experience, what are some of the best ways to overcome them?

  • Training:
    This is quite arguably the most important step. Training will make sure that your entire organization is aware of the goals of the program, what your definitions and metrics are, reporting procedures and expected outcomes of your program. Consider having practice sessions with example reports to show the entire process.
  • Proper Data Collection:
    Non-injury and near-miss incident reporting templates are available online and will help with proper reporting. If after a month or two you are seeing little or no data in the program, investigate the causes. Workers will often only do what managers are telling them to do, you should make sure that management is supporting your safety effort.
  • Praise and Reporting:
    Give feedback to workers who report near misses. Let them know that they are not wasting their time and that their extra effort is appreciated. Report the outcomes of your research in a newsletter or other high profile work publication so that people can see the results of the ongoing effort.

In its case study on near miss reporting, OSHA identified a company of 130 employees that saw a reduction of recordable incidents fall from 4 to 1 in the first year.

By combining near-miss incident reporting with your current safety program, you can keep your employees safer, reduce costs spent on worker accidents and have a more productive workforce.

Want more tips on creating a safe workplace? Read our 6 Tips to Zero Hand Injuries tip sheet by clicking below!
6 tips for getting zero hand injuries tip sheet

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