When looking for ways to improve the overall safety of a facility, there are few things that can be more helpful than the actual reports from true incidents. When an accident report, or even a report from a ‘near miss’ is filed, it gives the safety team the ability actually look at what happened and see how it can be prevented in the future.
Unfortunately, many people working in facilities are worried that reporting injuries will actually reflect negatively on them. They may also think that for minor injuries it is better to just deal with it and move on so they can get their required work done for the day.
Whatever the reasons, however, it is important to get everyone more comfortable with reporting any type of injury, or even a ‘near miss’ so that safety improvements can be made. Over time, this will help the facility to reduce hazards and develop an overall culture of safety that will benefit everyone.
Starting in 2015, employers will have to report the following to OSHA:
All work-related fatalities
All work-related inpatient hospitalizations of one or more employees
All work-related amputations
All work-related losses of an eye
The following 8 tips will help you to make it easier for people to report injuries within your facility.
8 Tips to Reducing Fear when Reporting Injuries at Work
1. Eliminate Repercussions
In many facilities, people know that when they have some sort of accident or injury, they may get blamed for it, and this can negatively impact their job. Unfortunately, this is a reality that has been in place in the past, and this must change if you want to have people reporting these types of injuries.
While it will take some time to change the way people think about accident reporting, it is important to make sure the policies in the facility state that people will not get written up or fired because of an accident or an injury. Putting this type of policy in writing is a first step toward helping people to become more comfortable with reporting injuries at work.
2. Mandatory Reporting of Injuries
To take the previous option a step further, facilities can also make it mandatory that employees report all injuries, or even near misses, when they occur. When it is clear that any injury must be reported, people are going to be more likely to do it.
While it won’t immediately change people’s attitudes toward reporting injuries, it will help to start building the culture that allows people to more comfortably and confidently talk about these issues and report them when they occur.
Putting a policy in place, for example, that states that any time someone’s accident report leads to a safety improvement update, they get some type of award. This could be monetary, paid time off or even just a certificate or other type of recognition.
With this type of thing, however, you have to make sure you are careful not to make it so people are tempted to report false injuries, or worse, stage injuries just to get the reward. When done properly, however, it can be very effective.
4. Restrict Mandatory Drug Tests
Many facilities have a policy in place that whenever an accident or injury occurs, they require a drug test to be performed. While this can sound like a good idea at first, it can actually make many people very hesitant to report any type of injury, even if they don’t take drugs.
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People may worry about whether or not the alcohol from a beer they had the night before is still in their system, or if a prescription drug they were given may raise red flags. The bottom line is, unless there is some clear indication that the employee was somehow intoxicated, drug tests should not be a standard step in the reporting of an injury.
5. Allow Anonymous Reporting
One of the easiest ways to make people more comfortable reporting any type of injury is to allow them to do it anonymously. Having a reporting sheet, for example, that they can fill out and drop into a box will help ensure they aren’t afraid of getting in trouble, which is a common reason people don’t want to report these issues.
In many cases, the specific information about who was involved is not necessary in order to find ways to limit the risks in the future. While having people report anonymously is not ideal, it is far better than not having these issues reported at all.
6. Implement Easy Reporting
Another thing people fear about reporting injuries at work is that it is going to end up taking them a lot of time to do. People know that they have to get their work done each day, so they don’t want to be spending a lot of time on this type of thing, especially if the injury is fairly minor. With this in mind, the reporting process should be streamlined and made simpler.
Creating a simple form, either paper or on the computer, and having it available to the employees in an easy to access location is a great way to make this type of reporting simpler and less time consuming.
7. Talking Openly
When someone reports an accident or a near miss, it is important to talk about it openly and honestly. Don’t immediately draw the conclusion that it was the individuals fault, but rather talk it through and seek to understand how and why it happened.
Even if it ends up being clear that the individual was at fault, you can still use this as an opportunity to improve accident prevention training for the future. Looking into these issues in an open and non-judgmental way is the best way to make long term safety improvements.
8. Taking Action on Reports
In addition to taking away the stigma of reporting an injury, you also need to help build the employees confidence that these reports are taken seriously. The fact that many people assume that even if they report an injury there won’t be anything done about it is a big concern. With this in mind, you must take quick and public action on any reported injury.
In many times, this can be a very simple solution. For example, if someone reports that they fell because of unevenness of the flooring in one area, make sure that it is addressed. You could have the floor replaced to solve the problem, or if that is not an option, at least use some type of floor marking to alert people to the potential danger. Safety floor tape is an easy and inexpensive way to draw attention to an area, and it would show that the accident reporting was effective.
Putting Safety First
The thing that all of these tips have in common is that they can help to put safety first within the facility. Rather than always looking for someone or something to blame for each injury that takes place, it is better to simply look at ways to prevent it in the future.
Most safety departments have a variety of different options at their disposal to help limit dangers, but they have to know about them first. For example, using safety signs in areas that are prone to having items drop from above is a great idea, but it will never be put in place if the safety team doesn’t know that there is a problem. With this in mind, do all you can to help encourage the reporting of injuries in your workplace.