Approximately 75 percent of workplace accidents are preceded by one or more near misses that never get reported to supervisors or managers, so preventive measures are never taken.
Reporting Near Miss Accidents
Many workplace accidents are just injuries waiting to happen, but if no one gets hurt problems never get reported and potential hazards never get fixed. Just because a worker doesn’t trip over an exposed extension cord, fall off a faulty ladder, or get hit in the head by a falling object, these near miss accidents should still be reported to a supervisor, manager, or employer.
When near misses occur, most employees simply go back to work if no one is injured, but that’s a big mistake. Many accidents can be predicted by near misses which serve as red flag warnings of potential dangers. Reporting near miss accidents calls attention to a hazardous workplace situation before an actual injury occurs. When workplace hazards go unreported and unresolved, some employee is likely to get injured by that same hazard in the near future. Reporting near miss accidents can prevent future accidents and injuries, even workplace fatalities.
Although most employers encourage workers to report near miss accidents, many go unreported for various reasons:
- Time-consuming paperwork
- Fear of being labeled as a complainer
- Fear of negative treatment from co-workers
- Peer pressure
- Becoming involved in an incident investigation
- Looking accident prone
To prevent workplace accidents and injuries, employers should encourage workers to report near miss accidents. Workers should understand the importance of reporting close calls that can cause injuries. They should also be assured they won’t receive reprisals or punitive actions for reporting hazardous situations.
Some employers have developed workplace safety plans with easy reporting procedures that eliminate time-consuming paperwork. Safety committees composed of representatives from different departments communicate about safety issues and coordinate safety efforts in the workplace. Many states require safety committees in the workplace. In some states, a discount on workers’ compensation premiums is given to employers with safety committees in place. This serves as an incentive to establish a workplace safety committee.
Although there is no federal OSHA requirement for safety committees, OSHA encourages companies to form them as a way to promote workplace safety culture and prevent injuries. OSHA does provide a variety of training programs that help employers establish workplace safety regulations, training for workers, workplace safety manuals, and communication procedures between workers and management.