A lot needs to happen after a workplace injury. The injured worker receives medical attention, the paperwork is filed, and an investigation conducted. Once you identify the root cause and contributing factors of the incident, you implement the needed steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
What about when an incident almost happens? These typically go unreported, aren’t investigated, and no corrective actions are taken. The problem/hazard remains, and perhaps the next time you, your co-workers, contractor, or visitor may not be so lucky.
Investigate near misses as though they were incidents that resulted in injury or harm.
The difference between a near miss and serious or fatal injury can be just a few inches. By conducting the same investigation for a near miss as you would a workplace injury you can identify problems and address them before someone gets hurt.
A supervisor normally leads the investigation—the most effective investigations also include managers and employees.
A good investigation focuses on both what happened and why it happened—learning the root cause of an incident and the contributing factors will help identify and address potential problems/hazards that you may not have been aware of. Talking to witnesses right away is a critical step because the details are still fresh in their minds.
Identify all factors of an incident or near miss—this helps to make all the changes necessary to ensure the incident doesn’t happen again. Follow-up steps could include new training or development of safe work practices / procedures or purchase of new tools / equipment.
When a near miss occurs, an employees’ first thought might be “whew, that was close. Thankfully no one got hurt.” But then, because no one was hurt, it is quickly forgotten. Treat each near miss as an opportunity—an opportunity to identify what went wrong, make changes, and improve workplace safety.
Work safe. Home safe. Every day.
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