Overcoming Resistance to Near-Miss Reporting Results In Improved Organizational Safety Performance

May ASSE Professional Safety journal article investigates organizations' reluctance to reporting near-miss incidents, provides solutions to creating a safety culture based on team engagement

May 08, 2013, 08:00 ET from American Society of Safety Engineers

CHICAGO, May 8, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A near miss incident on job sites is traditionally defined as one that leaves no injuries, no property or equipment damages and also little or no evidence that it even occurred.  As a result, a near-miss incident can be easily ignored. However, when reported and acted upon, near misses enable early intervention, and are great opportunities to improve organizational safety performance, according to Near Miss Reporting – a Missing Link in Safety Culture, a peer-reviewed feature in the May issue of the American Society of Safety Engineers' (ASSE) journal, Professional Safety.

Over the years several studies have shown that near-misses greatly outnumber serious accidents involving fatality, injury or property damage. For example, a 1993 study by Health and Safety Executive researchers found that for every lost time injury more than three days in length there were 189 non-injury cases.

Yet many organizations and their employees remain resistant to near-miss reporting. Reasons for resistance include; misunderstanding the meaning of a near-miss, fear of punishment or retaliation for a near-miss report, peer pressure, concern about record and reputation, the complexity and inconvenience of filling out a near-miss report, lack or recognition and feedback or an organization's desire to maintain the status quo.

"We want to develop a culture that doesn't wait until someone is injured, but identifies the risk before it happens," explained the article's author Mike Williamsen, Ph.D., CSP who added that it is important to develop a safety culture that engages all employees.

"We have to engage people on the front line to eliminate personal risks."

Referring to near-miss reporting as a 'personal risk assessment', Williamsen offers several solutions to overcoming the barriers to reporting near-misses in his article, that can be put into place to achieve what he calls a culture based safety system; define expectations that all employees report unsafe conditions or perceived risks, provide employees with safety training, provide measurement for how near-miss reporting has improved safety performance and recognize and reward employees and crews for pro-active safety actions.

For more than 50 years, ASSE's Professional Safety journal has been sharing the latest technical knowledge in SH&E—information that is constantly being developed through research and on-the-job experience. Each issue delivers practical guidance, techniques and solutions to help SH&E professionals identify hazards, protect people, prevent injuries, improve work environments and educate management that investing in safety is a sound business strategy. For more information please visit http://www.asse.org/professionalsafety.

Founded in 1911, the Chicago-based ASSE is the oldest professional safety organization and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. Its more than 35,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members lead, manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor, health care and education. For more information please go to www.asse.org.

SOURCE American Society of Safety Engineers