If an organization makes near misses difficult to report, with confusing paperwork or a convoluted process, workers won’t do it. Instead, supervisors should simply listen to the worker’s account of the near miss and then complete any necessary paperwork on the worker’s behalf. The difficulty what prevents a worker from reporting his own near misses is – he ended up asking half a dozen people how to file a report, never got a straight answer and finally gave up.
I worked with a Senior Safety Manager who called a particular employee “accident prone” and a “frequent flyer” based on his past injury record. If workers see their supervisors or coworkers humiliate those who make mistakes or experience incidents, they may be too embarrassed to come forward and admit they experienced a near miss. “We need to make our [workplace] culture one that accepts the fallibility of all people.
Believe it or not, fear actually may be the least common reason workers avoid reporting near misses. It’s true that some workplaces cultivate an environment where employees are punished for being injured, so these workers are unlikely to report near misses if they fear they will lose their jobs. Overall, however, this usually isn’t the most common reason workers neglect to report their near misses.
Some organizations may ask workers who experienced near misses to attend committees or meetings to share their stories. While this approach can work in some companies, it also may be problematic. If workers suspect their near miss is going to trigger a bureaucratic machine of paperwork and meetings, they might rather avoid the whole thing.
5. Peer pressure
“This is the big one “frequent flyer” man from an earlier example: If his injury or near miss cost the workplace its perfect safety record, which means all employees lost out on a cash bonus or prize, how will he feel? Peer pressure from other coworkers can drive near misses underground.
6. It’s easier not to
If workers suspect that no one at the organization actually cares about near-miss reporting, or think it will be too difficult or worry about being embarrassed, they may conclude that it’s simply easier not to report it. They might even think the near miss was not a big deal.
7. Loss of reputation
Similarly, workers don’t want the reputation of being considered accident-prone or a crybaby. “Major” industries – construction, logging, oil/gas, maritime, etc. – may encourage a culture where workers brag about their scars and never want to be seen as weak or unable to “take it.” This can drive near miss reporting down, as well.