“That was close!” How many times have you heard that in your workplace? How many times have you said it yourself?
Have you ever narrowly avoided an accident at work? Have you ever had to jump out of the way of a truck in the loading bay? Have you ever tripped on an uneven step and almost fallen down the stairs? Did you report it, or did you shrug it off and put it down to experience?
The National Safety Council found that “75% of workplace accidents were preceded by one or more near misses.”
If you have a near miss, you should always report it. There are three reasons why:
- It alerts your employer and other employees to the danger so that they can avoid it.
- It gives your employer the chance to remedy the danger.
- It gives you evidence should you have an accident caused by the same hazard.
You may be worried about reporting a near miss. What if your employer fires you, saying you are incompetent or not up to the job? Many workers do not report near misses to their bosses, because that is the reaction they have come to expect. However, you should report these things: You have the right to a safe working environment.
If you do have a workplace accident, you do not need to prove fault to claim workers’ compensation. However, sometimes you need more than workers’ compensation.
If your employer failed to act upon your near-miss report, and you later suffered an accident with the same hazard, you may be able to claim damages.