Introduction

Near Miss Reporting, or the lack of it, is a strong indicator of an organization's safety culture. Do you receive 50 near miss reports for every minor injury suffered by your employees? If not, it is likely that several significant barriers exist within your culture. These barriers are keeping your organization from learning the "free" lessons available from incidents that did not result in loss …this time.

A major construction company, while building a power plant in Louisiana, used an effective near miss reporting program to trigger safety success. Eighteen months into the project, the site had worked 3.1 million man-hours without a lost time injury, had an OSHA recordable rate of 0.68, and achieved the OSHA VPP status. Additionally, the site worked the first 1,000,000 project hours without a single OSHA recordable.

While four main leading indicators were utilized to support this remarkable accomplishment, this article will focus on one: the methods employed to overcome cultural barriers that typically inhibit near miss reporting success.

At the start of the near miss reporting improvement project, the number of near misses reported averaged one or two per month (or about 0.005 reported near misses per employee). Three months after initiation of the project, that number increased nearly 40-fold (to about 0.2 near misses reported per employee). The level of near misses reported continues to climb to a current level of about 230 near misses per week (or about 0.6 near misses reported per employee), well over 100 times the rate when the program was first initiated. This successful initiative has built trust, encouraged employee involvement, enabled the identification and control of previously unknown or unrecognized risks, and enhanced management credibility through very visible and positive action. The approach, techniques, and results used to obtain these results will be discussed and presented in this article.

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