Near Misses Become Good Catches

As safety professionals, our goal is to proactively support and train our employees in hazard identification and correction, and also conduct job hazard analysis and risk assessments prior to starting every task. We do these things to eliminate unwanted risk in the workplace and to keep our employees safe so they can make it home safely at the end of each day.

When a safety incident does occur, the big question is, how many near misses or good catches were witnessed and discussed, but not shared with a safety professional? There can be a negative connotation with near misses; employees may think reporting near misses will get them in trouble or make them look like a snitch. In reality, reporting near misses is one of the most important tools a safety professional could ask for. They allow us to look at the stats, gather the data and eliminate the risk. We want these instances reported to collect trends and help implement better controls to keep everyone safe!

How do we go from the negative connotation associated with near misses and turn them into good catches? A lot of people would say that is the million-dollar question. There are multiple ways to implement good habits including incentives, policies and enforcement. Ultimately it comes down to the commitment from project leadership coupled with positive feedback given to those who report near misses.

What does that positive feedback to the employee entail? At Faith Technologies, we encourage our project and team leaders to respond to near-miss reports as follows:

  • Give the feedback as close to the reporting as possible.
  • Be specific. Let the reporting employee know what was good about that near miss. “I really appreciate your stopping work and taking the time to turn this in. If someone else would have walked through that barricade, they could have gotten hurt.”
  • Most importantly, reinforce the behavior. Take the time to discuss these events with your team, whether this is during the operational risk management (ORM) meeting or smaller huddles.
  • Keep asking for that feedback from your team as well.

If an employee reports a near miss to their project leadership and that leader then gives positive feedback, we have now taken away the negative connotation of near misses and in return will start seeing more good catches. We need to stay focused and set expectations for maintaining that safe working environment, but we should never forget about the little things to ensure we keep building a strong culture.