Written by Timo Kronlöf
Have you ever wondered why leading companies set up near miss reporting? What’s the point in collecting reports about something that almost happened? If you have thought about it or you just began to think, keep reading.
First of all, the biggest reason to report near misses, safety observations or initiatives is to improve the current safety level. Safety management is often criticized for it’s methods to be hindsight. To be honest, very often the critique is actually earned if the only safety KPIs are lagging indicators such as TRIF (Total Recorded Incident Frequency) or LTIF (Lost Time Injury Frequency). It’s also typical to measure things like accident free days which in fact don’t measure safety level or performance at all. The lack of accidents don’t tell us anything about the work we do to improve safety and could just be pure luck.
Near misses and safety observations on the other hand can give us important information about what should be done to improve safety in advance. It also describes the safety activity of an organization. There are even studies that support the idea that active near miss reporting improves safety performance.
Many common leading KPIs are derived from near miss reporting. It can be the total amount of reported cases or similar frequency rate as TRIF but it measures the frequency of reported near misses or safety observations. We can also measure the average amount of observations per person. Keep in mind that in the end the most important thing in near miss reporting is conducting corrective actions. Do not forget to follow-up tasks.
The best thing about near miss reporting is that it is pretty easy to set up and it helps you improve safety before any accidents even happen.
This is how you do it:
Choose your desired KPI for near miss reporting
Define a realistic goal for that KPI
Ensure the management stands behind this goal
Choose your tools
Set incentives for your personnel
Communicate the role and benefits of near miss reporting to your personnel
What is near miss reporting in reality?
I prefer positive KPIs more than negative. Positive KPIs make safety seen as a positive thing rather than being that mandatory drag. That’s why I suggest you to start with the total amount of reports per person per anno. That’s a common goal to thrive together. Realistic goal in the beginning could be something around 1-10 reports per person per year depending on your current safety culture. Management commitment should be as visible as possible. Consider taking someone from management team to launch the program and make sure that the management team will participate the reporting.
“Don’t underestimate the laziness of people”
Before getting any further, choose your set of tools. And this is critical, don’t underestimate the laziness of people. Make the reporting as easy as it can get. Lower the boundary to report with smooth technology that doesn’t require a lot of training. Remember that people might only report one issue a year and it’s definitely not a good investment to train that person for 8 hours to report that one issue. Instead, concentrate on motivating people.
Set personal incentives but also make clear that this is a common goal that we can only achieve together. That will put some public pressure for the passive people. Introduce some personal awards to the most active observers. Communicate through many different channels such as email, your safety management information system, bulletin boards, intranet and your company’s social networks. Repeat the communication round and put it in some meetings’ agenda.
After you have set up the near miss reporting program and you begin receiving loads of reports, be prepared to give fast responses. It doesn’t need to be you personally who delivers the feedback but make sure that feedback is given. The easiest way from your perspective is to implement a software that automates not only the feedback process, but the tasks’ follow-ups as well. When you reach your goals together, remember to praise everyone that have been involved. Finally, don't forget to raise the bar and set more challenging goals next year. Every finish line is a start of a new race.
Now, this was the why, how and what of near miss reporting. I’d love to hear your feedback, how you have done it and how is it going today.
Safety + Health - Reporting near misses