Do you know about every single near-miss that happened in your company in the last month?
I’ve spoken to 50+ safety professionals in the last six months about near-miss and hazard reporting and there is a common challenge with under-reporting. If we don’t have enough visibility, we can’t fix the problems.
From these conversations and a discussion on LinkedIn, I’ve spotted some common themes in how the best safety professionals and managers engage their teams with near-miss and hazard reporting initiatives. My background is in marketing, so I’ve also added marketing flair to their genius ideas.
Your homework is to implement at least one of these ideas.
We believe that if you report the little stuff, you can prevent the big stuff. This article gives you tips to get people to report the little stuff, but it’s on you to make the changes in your workplace.
Hazards sound scary and a near-miss is confusing to most people that don’t work in safety. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what we call it. What matters is that your teams are communicating issues they see to make a safer workplace for everyone.
You’ve got to remove all of the hurdles that can deter your team from reporting. We’ve heard about old computer systems that your team have to travel for, and even paper forms that require faxing. Yes…faxing. It’s 2018 folks, there’s an app for that.
Your team won’t take the time to tell you about a problem if they don’t think anything is going to happen. Be proactive in taking action and communicate this your team.
I heard from one of our customers that they will pick the most critical hazard that was reported and share it in their weekly team meeting and describe the resolution for it and when it’s going to happen.
Incidents are so often attempted to be kept quiet – but word often gets out despite your best efforts. Because of this, it’s worth speaking openly with your team about the incidents that have been reported to show it’s OK to have these conversations, reiterating that it’s all about making a safer workplace.
A bit of marketing goes a long way. Put up posters around the site, talk about your reporting initiative at team meetings and even hand out flyers to people as they arrive at work for the day.
All of the ideas in this article rely on your team members being aware of your near-miss and hazard reporting programme, promotion will ensure that happens.
Sure, it’s a bit of a bribe. But if it creates a safer workplace and gets your team talking about near-misses then it’s worth it.
Here are some examples that we’ve heard about in our research:
Give teams or individuals a target for the number of hazards or near-misses they need to report in a given period.
You could start off small and simple:
Each team needs to report at least ONE hazard or near-miss for the month.
Then accelerate as you build on your positive reporting culture:
Every single team member needs to report TWO hazards or near-misses in the month
A great way to launch a new initiative and get the team engaged early on. It has the great effect of ensuring your team knows how to report something.
Offer a juicy prize like a day off work or a $500 gift card, give it to the person that made the biggest impact on team safety.
Airline pilots had a culture of sweeping their near-misses under the rug and as a result, they couldn’t learn from it to improve safety for other pilots. So, the Civil Aviation Authority and NASA partnered to create the Aviation Safety Reporting System that is non-punitive and gives pilots the confidence to self-report.
Imagine how many people in your team are scared to report because they don’t want to be punished?
Controversially, it’s easy for safety professionals to forgot how complex safety can be for frontline workers that don’t have much experience. It’s critical to train your team on how to identify hazards when they’re working and explaining what a near-miss is and why it’s important to report.
To make the training material effective, try using analogies and simple to understand examples that engage everyone on the team and don’t require. Use different types of media like video and infographics to make it interesting.
This starts at the top and can filter throughout your company if done right. If leadership offer public recognition for great behaviour towards safety then supervisors are likely to do it and flowing through peer-to-peer recognition.
Incident reporting is boring. There. I said it.
Does it have to be? Not at all. We’ve heard from Spotlight users that it’s pretty common to see funny photos and emoji in incident reports. This is how your team communicate with each other, we are all human after all.
Getting a useful incident report from your team doesn’t need to be formal, it just needs to communicate what the problem is so you can work on reducing that specific risk. Making it fun gives you the information you need, while engaging the team in the process.
Incident reporting can get a bad wrap because it can be seen as a medium to snitch. As a result, there’s a lot of peer pressure to not report incidents. This is certainly not easy, but it comes back to how you explain the goal of reporting: to make a safer workplace. If your team can see this, the perception of reporting will become more positive.
Safety officers and managers need to be consistent in showing their commitment to the importance of hazard and near-miss reporting. It will take months to start seeing the changes in culture, if you talk about it once nothing will change.
If you talk about it once a week for 12 weeks, then your message will be loud and clear.
It’s not just you and the management, it’s critical that you bring your safety reps into the near-miss initiative from an early stage as these team members are the ones on the ground with the team on a daily basis.
If you have any other ideas, the Spotlight team would love to hear them!
Special thanks to all of the ideas from members of the OSHA Discussion Group on LinkedIn! You can see the original discussion thread here.
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© SafetyCulture 2021