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April 30, 2021

Safety first: Report “near misses”

Lindsey Hanson

A “near miss” is defined as any unplanned event that does not result in injury or property damage or loss, but had the potential to do so. These events happen nearly every day. Employees need to feel empowered to report them to management through a transparent culture of reporting.  

Having a “Near Miss Reporting Program” is a way to achieve a strong safety culture. By encouraging retribution-free reporting, transparent safety cultures can begin to produce information that would not have been identified if employees were afraid to bring issues forward.

The benefits of a “Near Miss Reporting Program”

  • A stronger safety cultural that fosters transparency
  • An engaged and empowered workforce who is on the lookout for hazards
  • An improved safety program based on experience and identified solutions before accidents actually happen
  • Decreased claims as a result of mitigated losses

Use these Best Practices to establish a “Near Miss Reporting Program” for your organization

  • Have your leadership reinforce the importance of transparency and show its support for a reporting culture that makes safety a top priority for the organization
  • Make sure your reporting system is non-punitive and, if desired by the person reporting, anonymous
  • Investigate all near miss incidents in order to identify the root causes and prevent future incidents
  • Use investigation results to improve safety systems, hazard control, risk reduction and lessons learned
  • Use what you learned as opportunity for training, feedback on performance and a commitment to continuous improvement.

Encourage workers to participate in near miss reporting

  • Create a policy and procedure that is communicated to all employees with the backing of senior management
  • Educate employees on the reason why near miss reporting is necessary, the important role that they play, and the process for reporting
  • Ensure that the near miss reporting process is easy to understand and use
  • Reinforce with employees that near miss reporting is non-punitive
  • Consider incentives that encourage reporting and enhance the culture
  • Include training for new employees as a part of their orientation

Improve your safety culture by implementing a “Near Miss Reporting Program.” By encouraging retribution-free reporting, your organization can begin to produce information that would not have been identified without the program.  By reporting and investigating near miss events, trending data can serve as a guide to focus your risk management efforts. Near miss events are oftentimes precursors to a more significant event that can result in injury or property damage. For assistance in developing a “Near Miss Reporting Program” for your organization, contact your local Marsh & McLennan Agency representative for assistance.