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The importance of incident reporting

We’re all exposed to risks in some shape of form regardless of where we work. Therefore, it’s vital that everyone in the workplace understands the importance of reporting both safety related incidents and near misses, no matter how minor they may seem.

What is incident reporting?

Incident reporting is the process of documenting and investigating any situation in which:

  • An employee was harmed, injured, or died.

  • An external person was harmed or injured as a possible result of actions caused by the company or an employee.

  • Company property or equipment was damaged or broken.

  • A near miss occurred that had the potential to result in death, injury, or damaged property or equipment. ​

What is a near miss?

A near miss is an incident that didn’t result in any personal injury but had the potential and risk to do so. Near misses are very important indicators of potentially harmful future events. They are valuable warning signs that allow us to identify and eliminate uncontrolled hazards.

Safety is a shared responsibility.

Everyone is responsible for safety in the workplace and has a duty of care regardless of their position or title. Employers should have a systematic approach and stringent process for managing hazards and minimising the risk of safety related incidents. They should also know exactly how and when to submit a safety report.

Open and honest communication is essential for confronting safety issues head on, and prevention is always better than treatment. We should all feel comfortable reporting and discussing any issues or concerns.

Reporting is in no way an admission of guilt or error, but rather a method of identifying potential problems and allowing management to adopt improved safety precautions. There should never be any punishment associated with an employee submitting an incident report, as this could deter others from doing the right thing.

So why exactly is incident reporting so important?

  • Reporting alerts management. Workers are the eyes and ears of the workplace and can recognise and detect issues that management may not even be aware of.

  • It ensures every person involved receives the necessary support following the incident. This could include rehabilitation, additional supervision, counselling, further training etc.

  • It provides learning opportunity. We can learn a lot through incident reporting, and from this put preventative measures in place to eliminate reoccurrences or further issues.

  • Reporting increases the safety awareness of everyone in the workplace and contributes to a safe work culture. Incidents and observations keep us alert and aware of further potential problems. They can act as a wake-up call before a major accident or disaster occurs.

  • Reporting is a much cheaper alternative. The cost of a major work accident can be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Investing in implementing and maintaining an effective incident reporting program across all levels of the business is much more economical and efficient. Nothing can compare to the monetary, physical, and emotional cost of a tragic incident.

We must all take responsibility for a safer workplace. At Labour Solutions Australia, the safety of our people is our number one priority. Let’s strive for safety together!