“Near-Misses”, and Why You Should Encourage Employees to Report Them

A “near-miss” is an unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness, or damage, but had the potential to do so with only a small occurrence that prevented it from happening. A faulty process or management system is the root cause for the increased risk that leads to the near-miss and should be the focus of improvement. 

Near-misses might seem like something to shrug off, but in fact, they can be valuable tools for assessing an organization’s safety culture and points of vulnerability. However, many employees are reluctant to report these incidents, for fear of consequence. The first step to learning from near-misses is establishing a culture that promotes incident and near-miss reporting.

The Importance of Reporting Systems 

Many safety activities are reactive and not proactive. Near-miss incidents often indicate future loss producing events but may be overlooked as there was no harm at first. Without a reporting culture where employees are encouraged to report these close calls, many opportunities to prevent the incidents are lost. Most loss producing events, both serious and catastrophic, were preceded by warnings or near-miss incidents. Recognizing and reporting near-miss incidents can significantly improve worker safety and enhance an organization’s safety culture.

Reporting systems:

  • Retrieve data for statistical analysis, correlation studies, trending, and performance measurement.  
  • Offer a convenient opportunity for “employee participation,” a basic component of a successful safety management system. 
  • Establish an open culture where individuals contribute in a responsible manner to their own safety and that of their fellow workers. 
  • Can indicate poor or positive performance measures.  

Establishing a Near-Miss Reporting System

When creating your reporting system, consider the following directives:

  • Establish a reporting culture reinforcing hazards identification and control, reduce risk and prevent harmful incidents must be acted on. 
  • Reporting must be non-punitive and, if desired by those reporting, anonymous. 
  • Investigate near-miss incidents to identify the root cause and the weaknesses in the system that resulted in the circumstances that led to the near-miss. 
  • Use investigation results to improve safety systems, hazard control, risk reduction, and lessons learned.

All of the above can be used for training, feedback on performance and a commitment to continuous improvement. 

Encouraging Near-Miss Reporting

How can you encourage employees to report near-misses? Here are some ways:

  • Create a policy and procedure communicated through entire lines of employees with senior management supervision. 
  • Promote a culture of reporting with the support and help of all managers and supervisors. 
  • Educate employees on the reason why near-miss reporting is a necessity, the important role that they play, and the process for reporting. 
  • Ensure that the near-miss reporting process is easy to understand and use.
  • Continue to communicate the importance of near-miss reporting, encouraging the participation of all employees. 
  • Use the near miss reporting as a leading indicator and report back to the organization on the positive steps taken to improve workplace safety. 
  • Reinforce non-punitive reporting. 
  • Consider incentives that encourage reporting and enhance the culture.
  • Implement training for new employees 
  • Celebrate the success and value of the near-miss reporting process with all employees.

A robust workers’ compensation insurance program will help your business and your employees in the event of an accident, but it should not be your only defense. With an effective near-miss reporting system, you can reduce the frequency and severity of your claims.

About The Rubin Group

Based in New York, The Rubin Group provides insurance in most of the 50 states. Our full-service insurance brokerage provides insurance and risk management services to individuals in all income brackets and businesses of all sizes and types. We understand that every client has unique coverage requirements, and we are passionate about providing the ideal individualized coverage for each customer. Each member of our team takes the time to truly understand your situation, the particular risks you anticipate – and the very real risks you’ve not yet contemplated. For all of your insurance needs, contact us at The Rubin Group!