Let’s say you observe an employee tripping on a piece of carpet being used as a doormat. She slips but does not get injured. What would you do? Would you just keep going about your day?
The above incident is considered a “near miss” – a miscue that could have potentially caused an injury or property damage. When you experience a near miss that could have resulted in a workplace injury or a miscue in individual or organizational performance, how do you and your team react? A near miss is a solid opportunity to become more aware of your work environment and practices and, potentially, to discover how to contribute to process improvements, as well as workplace safety.
You can train your entire team to make the best of a near miss opportunity. When employees feel empowered to point out a near miss – and perhaps even receive recognition or a pat on the back for doing so – this practice will likely prevent future injuries and may contribute to improved operational performance. The tendency might be to resist calling attention to a near miss, since it can be perceived as a negative “blip” on the safety or performance track record of your company or team.
For solid practices in near miss investigation, determine the root cause of the incident. Introduce how a recurrence can be avoided. Determine whether employees may benefit from training regarding the new practices. Focus on prevention.
When called to the scene of a near miss, if you are a manager or team leader, you want to identify witnesses to see whether the description of the incident can be captured from the eyes of different observers. Interview everyone involved. Be careful not to lay blame, especially during the interview process.
If the near miss involves a safety issue, take pictures of the scene so that you can document what might need to be done to prevent future issues.
Develop a cultural approach to look at near misses in the light of “What can we learn? How can we prevent future incidences? What can we change? How can we improve our practices?” Effectively using near miss opportunities is a good way to “fall forward.”