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May 16, 2013
Use near misses to create a safer workplace?

British government researchers found that for every lost-time injury more than 3 days in length, there were 189 noninjury cases. Understanding the circumstances surrounding a near miss can be valuable to employers. But according to an article in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) journal, Professional Safety, many organizations and employees resist reporting near misses.

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Near-Miss Reporting: A Missing Link in Safety Culture looks at the reasons for this resistance and provides ways to overcome it. Author Mike Williamsen considers near misses to be an opportunity for personal risk assessment and adds, “We want to develop a culture that doesn’t wait until someone is injured, but identifies the risk before it happens.”

How do you overcome hesitancy to reporting near misses? Williamsen offers the following tips:

  • Clarify the expectation that employees report unsafe conditions or risks.
  • Provide employees with safety training.
  • Offer strategies to measure how near-miss reporting improves safety performance.
  • Recognize and reward employees for proactive safety engagement.

According to Williamsen, near misses go unreported for a variety of reasons. These include fear of retaliation, peer pressure, concern about a safety record, complicated report forms, and lack of feedback.

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