You know what you can do to protect yourself from and to prevent injuries, but there is an often overlooked threat that lurks behind the scenes at the workplace. There’s a high probability that it’s happened to you, but you don’t really think about the implications it can have on you and those working around you.
Ever have something fall off a shelf, a shirt caught on a piece of equipment, or your ladder narrowly misses a power line? To err is human. We all make mistakes from time to time, but incidents like those examples can not only put you in danger, but also endanger your co-workers down the line if not reported. It’s easy to shake-off near misses and chalk it up to good luck, but what was an avoided catastrophe now, might not be in the future. Here is some advice to help you learn the value of reporting near misses to your employer and what they mean to your safety.
No, Really. What is a Near Miss?
A near miss is an unintentional, unsafe occurrence that didn’t result in injury, fatality, or property damage, but had the potential to do so. These types of situations can happen at any time, no matter what field or industry you work in. Near misses often precede real accidents that can result in injury or death. Your employer won’t be aware of these potential threats on their own. It’s up to you to report these dangers to keep everyone safe.
It’s Your Early Warning System
Reporting near misses is one of the best ways to avoid serious injuries or even death in the workplace. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported nearly 3.1 million nonfatal work-related injuries in the private sector, and according to the National Research Council, nearly 6,000 Americans die from workplace injures every year.
Making sure you inform your managers about near misses is a learning tool for you and your company. When near misses occur they can be regarded as early warnings that something is wrong somewhere in the system. You wouldn’t want to work in an environment that wasn’t as safe as possible, so be sure to inform your supervisors of any potential hazards before you or your co-workers are put in danger.
You’re Not Causing Problems
Many near misses go unreported because workers feel their supervisors don’t appreciate having to stop what they are doing to investigate the issue. It may feel like management doesn’t encourage these kinds of reports and it’s just a hassle, but you and your co-workers safety and security should be the biggest priority at work. Don’t ever feel like reporting a near miss would be a distraction, inconvenience, or annoyance.
When reporting near misses, you’re showing initiative. You are keeping your colleagues and employer in mind by saving money and time when avoiding accidents. This type of investment in your company is what management looks for when promoting their workers. If your employer has a weak or non-existent near miss reporting policy, showcase your leadership skills by working with them to create an improved system.
Don’t wait for the accident to happen before letting your supervisors know about it. It could be your life on the line. What are some ways you’ve stepped up to promote a safe work place?
Reporting near misses is for many people a sure way to get fired. The manager feels maligned, people near and around the situation are made scapegoats, the messenger gets the brunt, and generally, no changes are made that will prevent this from happening again. The messenger will be fired or transferred to another section, and new people, unaccustomed to the dynamics (aka hazards) in that section, will replace the messenger unbriefed. Forcing workers into stupid and dangerous activities is par for the course. Complainers get sacked. Low level managers who have direct control over these situations are not often chosen for brainpower or competence. HR often mistakes brashness and controlling behavior for supervisor competence in lower level retail work or restaurant, for instance.
That’s GREAT now if every1 could speak up.
JLien, While it’s sad occurrence, workers have to consider the risks. Depending on the situation, what might cost them their job could end up costing weeks in the hospital or even their lives.
It boils down to best judgement and what is right for the situation. Glad to hear your opinion, JLien.