Near misses are an incredibly valuable, yet often unsustainable, part of an overall safety program.
Near misses are referenced by OSHA as follows: “OSHA strongly encourages employers to investigate all incidents… as well as close calls (sometimes called “near misses”), in which a worker might have been hurt if the circumstances had been slightly different” (1).
The Challenge of Maintaining an Effective Near Miss Program
The challenges for maintaining a good near miss program have been twofold over the years. First off, workers are extremely busy and it’s challenging to stop and take the time to properly record and document the near miss event.
And secondly, when you have all that data, it’s very cumbersome to get it all into a usable spreadsheet – so that you can begin to understand what all that near miss information is trying to tell you.
The following comes from an article in Safety and Health Magazine, way back in Jan 2012, but it’s still true today (2).
“Maintaining the health of your company will take some hard work, said Shawn M. Galloway, president of ProAct Safety, a consulting company in The Woodlands, TX.
“One of the reasons why employees suggest the [near-miss reporting] system fails is mostly because of the massive amounts of data,” Galloway said. “The same thing that people can run into in establishing a near-miss program is, ‘How do we respond to copious amounts of data?’” (2)
According to Galloway, people may become bogged down by the research and hundreds of near-miss reports received once a program begins, and he cautions against becoming overwhelmed.”
And, those near misses ARE trying to tell you something… They’re trying to tell you what’s about to happen!
How Companies Create a Successful Near Miss Culture
The good news is, there’s a solution to the problem.
Software solutions will help employees, and their supervisors and managers, easily record and document near miss occurrences. It’s as simple as pulling out your cell phone or your tablet, and answering a few questions and hitting submit.
The data from those near misses is automatically aggregated, and reports can be generated on demand to tell you things like the individuals involved, the location, the shift, and the time of day, just to name a few.
Near miss programs can fail because ultimately, it becomes too cumbersome to aggregate the data and create meaningful information. Compiling information from stacks of paper is never easy, and certainly not sustainable. And engagement wanes if the information that’s gathered doesn’t get shared with the team in a timely fashion.
And if you’ll remember from a previous blog, the success of a program or initiative can be accurately predicted if you ask yourself 3 simple questions:
- Is it implementable? Yes is the answer, here.
- Is it sustainable? Again, yes, with the right tools.
- Can I afford to not take this action? No…if you want to get better safety results in the future!
Factors for a Successful Near Miss Program
So here’s a path to a sustainable near miss program:
1. Explore safety software options and find one that’s suitable for your organization, one that allows you to easily create, record, review and analyze near miss incidents.
2. Set the expectation that your team (or teams) identify and complete at least one near miss per day.
3. Engage the team! Allow frontline workers to perform these. They are the ones who are at the point of engagement, so they will have the most opportunities to observe and report them.
4. Make sure this is a no-fault process. Unless someone has observed a willful act that may cause harm to others( or company property), reassure the team that the emphasis is on protecting their coworkers, and their input will be appreciated and regarded, rather than punished.
5. Report back to the groups weekly or monthly, whatever is the appropriate timing for your organization. Good safety software will provide insight for your analysis as to which areas need focus to prevent future injuries or damage from occurring.
The program really can be that simple, and again, Near Misses are one of the leading, if not leading, indicator of future safety occurrences that will happen.
So get started today, for a safer workforce tomorrow.
Build an Effective Near Miss Reporting System
iReportSource can help you create and simply manage your near miss program. iReportSource helps you collect all your related safety information—hassle-free, and, thanks to our powerful analytics engine, iReportSource can identify the root cause of any issues. Go from lagging indicators to leading indicators with iReportSource: Learn more about iReportSource today.