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  • Eric Dominguez

Building a path to Safety: Increase Hazard Reporting

We do not have all the answers. That can be said about us at any time. Mostly that can be partly a result of not having the right questions or not obtaining the right information. Answers never come if we do not know the right questions to ask.

If our end goal is to reduce workplace injuries counting days away from work, counting the number of incidents, or the number of lost time days is ALL after the fact that an injury occurred.

Organizations still use the Total Recordable Rate (TRC) to measure success. Yes, we can still look and speak to the goal of the TRC. However, if you don't attack the 'root cause' of your accidents and injuries AND create some measurable metrics on that front, then you are missing the real leading metrics that can impact injury reductions.

I have worked in organizations that, in part, have moved to create impactful measurements of just how many Hazards and Near Misses are reported. They created ways for employees to document found hazards and participate in improving the workplace. Every time a hazard is reported (via a Hazard reporting card) that data gets tracked. The details are reported, assigned a corrective action based on the root cause. The key is to continue to drive a new culture of reporting and correcting found hazards.

Wanting near misses? No, we don't want near misses. However, we do not want near misses going unreported because management wants zero near misses.

The metric to track is, how many hazards or near misses are reported each month. How many are corrected and how long does it take to complete the corrective actions. Then communicate to all employees and management the standings. Always seeking to grow the number of reported Hazards and Near Misses. Our goal is to obtain continuous improvements by reduction of circumstances that can result in the workplace injury.

In addition, some organizations have decided to add a reward system to employees reporting found hazards or near missed. This is to both drive rewards and increase participation of the employees.

Every injury incident can be traced back to its root cause. That root cause can be: Methods, Machines, Manpower, and Management, to name a few. Every behavior that runs afoul of safe practices and every physical hazard or near miss could lead to an injury incident. Reducing those will reduce the likelihood of an accident.

In our operation, we created a small 4" x 5" card to obtain reported hazards or near misses. The card is initiated by the employee. Employees are trained in hazard identification. The card is provided to the supervisor to review and sign. The card is then used by the supervisor to enter into our incident reporting software. The design of the card is simplified so that only basic essential information builds the initial reporting. The automated database system helps count and provides our metrics. The system also tracks our created corrective action.

As this process moves forward, we increase our reporting goals and set expectations for employees to participate in hazard reporting. As well, organizations can develop incentive programs to reward employee participation. A drawing of hazard a few cards submitted each month can be selected for gift cards awarded to employees. This can help drive increased participation.

As we gather data each month on the number of hazards/near misses reported, we can determine the type and location of hazards and gauge how well we are getting at finding and reporting hazards or near misses to help resolve issues and make the workplace safer.

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