Notify Technology | May 1, 2024 | Blog

3 Ways Safety Software Can Improve Your Near Miss Reporting

When it comes to building a positive health and safety culture, proactive safety reporting is key. This means regular reporting on all types of safety events including hazards, near misses, accidents or injuries. By increasing the volume of near miss reports you generate as a business, you can obtain more safety data. This in turn will provide more insight to allow you to proactively manage and reduce workplace risk.

So how can you make the task of reporting as easy as possible for your employees? In this article, we’ll look at why near miss reporting is so important and some of the different ways that incident management software can help to engage your employees to improve near miss reporting in your workplace.

What is near miss reporting?

A near miss is categorised as a health and safety incident that could have led to injury, loss or damage in the workplace but ultimately did not. This could be for various reasons, from timing to an employee’s skill. Sometimes they are referred to as a close call, a narrow escape, or even simply an incident. More often than not, what prevents an incident from becoming an accident is sheer good luck.

Even though a near miss doesn’t result in employees being hurt or equipment becoming damaged, reporting them is still an integral part of good health and safety practices. Along with other incident reporting, recording near misses can help to identify potential hazards and prevent accidents from occurring. The first step is to make sure your employees understand what a near miss is and how they can identify a near miss. After that, it’s giving them the tools to make reporting near misses as easy as possible.

Near miss, hazard or accident: what’s the difference?

Near misses, hazards and accidents all have things in common, but knowing how to distinguish one from the other is crucial for accurate and timely reporting. A near miss, like a hazard or an accident, is something unplanned or unexpected. According to the HSE definition, an accident is a ‘separate, identifiable, unintended’ incident that directly results in physical harm to a person. In this way, it is different from a near miss.

A hazard is something that, if left unchecked, could lead to a near miss or an accident. A hazard can be a physical object (for example, a trailing wire that could lead to a trip), a substance (for example, water on a stairwell, making it slippery) or an activity (for example, a loud noise that could be distracting or even deafening). Recording hazards and accidents can lead to fewer near misses, but it is still important to take near misses themselves seriously and report them for either corrective action or learning, if and when they happen.

Why should near misses always be reported?

Since near misses don’t lead to any material harm, they are sometimes regarded as less serious or even insignificant. When comparing a near miss to a more obvious hazard or accident, we can maybe understand why some employers and employees are less proactive about reporting them.

Even when your teams know what a near miss is, they could still feel dissuaded from reporting them when they happen. They might feel short on time or that the reporting process is too complicated. They might mistakenly believe that, because a potential disaster has been averted, they shouldn’t bother their employer with details of a near miss. They might also feel like they’ll be in trouble for being involved in a near miss.

Unfortunately, this approach can lead to longer-term problems within your company’s health and safety culture. Over time, good near miss reporting can highlight any safety trends that emerge in your workplace. This can then help you identify how to improve or update health and safety policies, processes or procedures in your organisation. Reporting near misses can highlight equipment or machinery that is no longer fit for purpose, removing hazards that could cause future accidents – for example.

When employees become used to reporting near misses, they will feel more confident to proactively report other incidents, hazards or accidents themselves, rather than deferring to a manager. Making sure your teams feel responsible and engaged with health and safety reporting is essential to cementing a positive and proactive safety culture – near misses included.

Some examples of near misses

Like many incidents, near misses will look different across different workplaces. Here are two examples of near misses and what impact reporting these incidents could have.

Near Miss 1 – a spillage

Following a spillage, the area is cleaned and the spill is reported. However, the floor is still wet after cleaning and no wet floor signage has been left out. An employee arrives at work, unaware of the incident, and slips on the wet floor. Luckily, they manage to steady themselves on a nearby desk and are not hurt.

By reporting this near miss, you will realise that there is a need to update your safety procedures around dealing with spills to ensure that they are cleared up safely and in a timely manner. You might also want to consider how you can speed up reporting or make it more accessible so that employees can stay up to date, even when they aren’t physically present.

Near Miss 2 – use of equipment with no training

A new employee is left unattended with equipment they haven’t yet been trained to use. Feeling like they want to make a good impression and keen to get on with the job, the new employee starts up the machine and begins to use it incorrectly and unsafely. Their manager returns in time before any damage is caused.

By reporting this near miss, you can highlight the importance of supervision and appropriate training for new employees. Reporting could also give rise to existing employees sharing where they feel they could benefit from more training, ultimately improving the confidence, capability and productivity of the wider team.

3 ways safety software can improve near miss reporting

No matter what their role is, everyone in your organisation has a responsibility to proactively and accurately report incidents whenever they occur. As a Health and Safety leader, you want to make sure that reporting near misses is as simple as possible for your teams. Using incident reporting software is a good way to support this and increase your employees’ engagement when it comes to reporting near misses.

Increase engagement with a mobile app

If your employees have to wait until they return to the office or to their desk to report a near miss, they may be less inclined to report it at all. Even if they do eventually get around to recording the near miss, they might forget some key details in the time since it happened. With Notify’s native mobile app, which links directly to your digital safety dashboard, employees can easily report near misses when they happen, wherever they are. They can take photo’s, use their mobile’s GPS to record the site/location and even use speech to text to report near misses in seconds. You can also set up notifications and see the data in real time – allowing you to assign corrective actions to the relevant team members at a click of a button.
Read our case study to learn how Aceleron generated a 10x increase in employee engagement with Notify.

Capture and analyse your data digitally

Traditional reporting systems or using paperwork or spreadsheets, could be holding you back from learning key lessons about the safety of your workplace. With safety software, not only do you get a comprehensive overview of incident reports, but you can also zoom in on emerging trends to better understand how and why incidents are happening. You can then share this data with your wider team, ensuring that everyone can take proactive steps to avoid those near misses altogether.

Provide feedback

With teams working remotely or on differing shift patterns, it can be difficult to quickly share feedback. With digital safety software, you can share updates and key information with those who need it, when they need it. With Notify’s incident management software, you can assign actions to individuals, check on progress and give feedback in real-time. Keeping your workforce informed and showing them that something is being done about their near miss report will incentivise them to continue recording and reporting safety events. If they feel involved in safety and that they are helping to keep their colleagues safe, they will take more accountability which in turn will lead to more reports and more data for you to manage and reduce risk. With health and safety software, you can increase near miss reporting rates and use the data to make informed decisions about your company’s safety culture now and in the future. Read our case study to learn how Regional Water Authority generated a 300% increase in near miss reporting.

With Notify’s software, you won’t miss a near miss again.

If you’d like to find out more about how Notify can help improve your near miss reporting, as well as other aspects of your workplace health and safety, get in touch and book a free demo with us today.

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