It might sound like a pessimist’s viewpoint, but when it comes to “near miss” incidents in the workplace, thinking through the “what if” scenarios is actually the right thing to do.
But you can’t do that unless your workers let you know about it. Reporting a near miss allows your safety team to evaluate what happened with an eye to preventing it, or something worse, from happening in the future.
In an article in the August, 2014 issue of Safety + Health, three responses are suggested as crucial to making the best of those “almost” moments: investigate, determine the cause, and implement controls.
Suggestions such as ranking incidents by potential severity and tailoring the level of your investigation accordingly and sharing near miss stories in company meetings and newsletters to raise awareness may help mitigate future instances.
Not sure what constitutes a near miss? The OSHA and National Safety Council Alliance define it as an “unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness, or damage – but had the potential to do so.” This agency collaboration put together a case study fact sheet on near miss reporting systems that covers how to create such a system, how employers can promote the system to their workers, and a roster of companies that have successful programs and how they did it.
Of course, when it comes to actual incidents that result in injury, OSHA’s reporting regulations come into play, and there was a recent change to their recordkeeping rule:
“On September 11, 2014, OSHA announced changes to the list of industries that are exempt from the requirement to routinely keep OSHA injury and illness records, and to the list of severe work-related injuries and illnesses that all covered employers must report to OSHA. These new requirements will go into effect on January 1, 2015 for workplaces under Federal OSHA jurisdiction. The guidance materials found on this page have been updated to reflect the new requirements.”
(Need help with recordkeeping? Summit’s OSHA Recordkeeping course helps you better understand how to use the 300 reporting log to enable you to identify workplace hazards, assist OSHA representatives in the occurrence of an inspection, and maintain compliance. Plus, HSI also offers onsite safety consulting through Summit Safety Alliance - call our EH&S Specialist, Jessica Perez for information now at 800.447.3177.)
At your place of business, don’t let those near misses get swept under the rug — they might just inadvertently trip someone else. Making it easy for your employees to report what they see is a cornerstone of a robust safety culture.