Importance of reporting a near miss at work.

Published: 27th May 2011
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Importance of rporting a near miss

All developed countries have Departments and Ministries that focus on Labor Welfare and Administration. Maintaining occupational safety and health administration is one of the most important objects of the government. The government has eschewed a rigid and legalistic approach. The government recognizes that employers cannot be forced to give importance to employee safety through fear of penalty and punishment alone. Employers are encouraged to submit periodic reports related to accidents and near misses. However, these rules and regulations have not made working places safer. Why? Most rules and regulations keep workers out of the loop. A free forum where workers can interact with each other and exchange stories of accidents and near misses can spread more awareness than dozens of employer organized safety programs.
Workers, instead of employers, must talk about near misses. A narration by an individual who was saved from certain death or who saw a fellow colleague escaping death in a near miss will connect with other workers better. Workers shall not try to soft pedal the issue. The Internet offers anonymity and one can speak about accidents, mishaps, mistakes and near misses without fear of repercussions. From leaning back too far on the chair to over speeding the forklift in factory premises, your experiences can help others rectify their own mistakes before a serious incident causing death or grievous hurt occurs.
There is another significant advantage of speaking up about near miss instances in your work place. Very few employers permit workers to contribute to improvement of workers' safety. Given a choice between bottom line profits and better worker safety, most employers choose the former. This is a short sighted approach that puts workers in the firing line. The absence of accidents further convinces the employers that they are on the right track. However, such employers never consider the various instances where their approach almost led to death or injuries.
Talking about these issues online will help other workers learn about potential risks. Helping other workers learn more about the ideal situation will spread awareness about the high risk environment that is currently posing a threat in work places.
Reporting such events will help other workers understand the importance and impact of personal protective equipment and safety programs. Talking about how you remembered the right course of action as instructed in the safety program may encourage other workers to pay more attention to such seminars, workshops and programs. Talking about how you escaped unscathed from a heavy tool that was dropped from the top of the scaffolding by your colleague because of your hard hat will help others take personal protective equipment more seriously.
Gloves, hats, overalls and other such protective accessories will be useful in near miss events as well. An acid splatter that landed just a few inches from your boot constitutes a near miss. The fact that no part of your skin was exposed meant that your skin did not burn due to the few drops that splattered around after the acid fell.
A long working life contains many such events that, if reported, can help avoid potentially life threatening accidents. Just ask yourself 'What went in wrong in my workplace today and how did we escape harm?' Just talk about it online and help others learn and benefit from your experience.

Tristen M. Dougher

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