If you’ve ever said “boy, that was close!” then you have learned a near-miss lesson. These lucky breaks where a split second can be the difference between getting hurt or not, often go unreported and are soon forgotten. According to the National Safety Council, 75% of all accidents are preceded by one or more near-misses. What’s lost is the injury prevention lesson that can help prevent the next close call from turning into a Workers’ Compensation claim.
A near-miss is a leading indicator to an accident that, if used correctly, can be an effective preventative measure. Near-misses are a failure of the system that shows a vulnerability that could lead to an employee injury. Can you afford to ignore the signs? You may pay the price with higher workers’ compensation premiums due to the negative effect on your experience modification factor.
Employee participation in a near-miss program is key because they are the ones who witness these events. Workers should be trained on how to properly identify and recognize potential hazards. To help make it easy for them to submit near-misses and ensure good data, consider allowing them to turn in near-miss reports anonymously. Similarly, avoid naming people who may have contributed to the incident. Focus on the lessons to be learned rather than assigning blame.
Organizations that implement near-miss programs credit them with improving safety, but success is dependent on the participation of all employees. You will get more participation if employees are confident there won’t be negative consequences as a result of reporting near-misses. In addition, employees want to know that leadership is committed to the program so employers have to be persistent in promoting the value of reporting.
Near-misses should be a wake-up call for you and your team. The Flanders Group can provide forms and training on how to implement a reporting process that will help prevent serious accidents. We also have other tools to help improve your injury prevention program. Just ask.