Why do workers not report incidents on site?
As a practicing Health and Safety professional you should ask yourself this question:
When you notice that incident reports are going down, yet the non-compliances are going up.
When you get to site to meet a worker with a bandaged hand, a swollen leg, a plastered face, etc, but no incident report; we should be bothered. This is an indication that things are not right.
It is your duty as a Health and Safety personnel to find out what is really going wrong.
You should find out:
Is it true that there are no incidents (Neither near miss nor Accidents), or that some people are being economical to the real state of issues?
Incident occurrence is inextricably linked with job sites. Though we target Zero LTI, but there are other types of incidents that would be leading which will help in tightening up the Health and safety structure.
Why workers do not report incidents
Let us now analyse some of the reasons workers don’t report incident:
- Poor incident reporting structure: In the organizational phase of the health and safety management system, appropriate line of communication should be designed for incident reporting. When this line of communication is not in place, incident reporting will be impaired. This incident reporting channel if available should be well communicated to every worker, so that they will know what to do in cases of incident.
- Management pressure: The managements in this context are the supervisors or other people in the management cadre. Some management personnel that are reporting to higher authorities discourages their workers to report incidents because of monetary benefits or senior management recognition.
- Fear: Some workers refuse to report incidents because of fear. Fear of being penalized, fear of being sanctioned, or sacked.
- To sustain incentives: Incentives are part of a structure to encourage good health and safety compliance. Often times, these compliance are being judged by results like Zero accidents. To meet this target, workers and supervisors alike try to hide accidents so that they will always receive the incentives.
As Health and Safety professionals, we understand the benefit of incidents reporting; be it an accident or a near miss. When there is a reduction in incident reporting, lessons will not be learned, corrections will not be made, and there will be not positive improvement in the health and safety structure.
How to improve incident reporting among workers
Now that we have understood some of the reasons why workers do not report incidents, it is needful that we work on these reasons to improve incident reporting. Some of the things to help solve this situation are:
- A good and coercive incident reporting structure should be set and appropriately communicated to all workers.
- Management should learn to adopt good health and safety practices to earn health and safety incentives, not through deceit and cover up. They should understand the right reason to work safe, which is not to win the health and safety incentives nor recognition.
- During incident investigation, Health and Safety professionals should make the witness/witnesses to understand that the incident investigation exercise is a fact-finding exercise but not a fault-finding exercise. They can achieve this by their incident investigation approach; the kind of questions ask, the investigation environment (Health and Safety professionals should not create a tensed environment while interviewing the witnesses ), etc.