A recent study by Percy Hughes & Roberts Solicitors, has revealed that employees across all industries are too scared to report an injury sustained in the workplace, in fear that they will make their employer angry.
The survey which involved 650 individuals, found that 38% of respondents who had been involved in an incident, did not report it because they felt they may be met with anger or that nothing would be done as a result.
The importance of reporting
Reporting incidents, no matter how small they may seem, will ultimately allow organisations to create a safer work environment. While all businesses hold a legal duty to carry out risk assessments and take steps to reduce or eliminate the risk, some risks remain hidden and accidents do still happen. While a minor accident may go unreported, the next accident could be detrimental, causing serious harm and costing the business in reputation, legal proceedings and fines.
The most effective way of revealing hidden risks and preventing further harm is through incident reporting. By becoming aware of a hazard that has caused an injury or near miss, the organization is able to take steps to eliminate the risk and prevent any other employees from being injured.
But how can employers overcome fear from employees when it comes to reporting on an incident?
Tackling the stigma
In order to overcome the stigma that reporting will be met with anger or disregard, incident reporting must form an integral part of an organisation’s health and safety messaging.
Verbal communication is perhaps the strongest way of communicating a positive message around reporting. By discussing the issue with your staff in an open and positive way, you are able to show them that you are approachable and that their safety is a top priority.
It should be made clear that employees will never be punished for reporting a hazard or incident and blame will not be assigned. Instead, reporting should be about prevention and correction in order to maintain their safety. You should also reiterate that no accident or perceived risk is too small to report.
When receiving reports on an accident or incident, providing ongoing feedback on how you are dealing with it will demonstrate to your employees that you are taking it seriously and that reporting the incident was worth their time.
Accident and hazard reporting should also form an integral part of your written health and safety policy. It is important that reporting is encouraged but also that it is made clear on how to do so, when and to whom. You may choose to appoint a health and safety representative within your organisation or within each team to whom incidents should be reported. Or you may even consider holding monthly meetings where health and safety matters, including any incidents, are discussed openly.
If you do not have the resources to do so or feel employees will still be resistant to speaking with someone directly, you could consider an online reporting system which can also be anonymised if you see fit.
Ultimately, creating a strong, positive safety culture will encourage employees to commit to creating a safe work environment, including reporting. However, changing a culture takes time, particularly for large organisations. It may be helpful to implement an incentive program when first introducing a new reporting system to encourage employees to get involved straight away.
For more guidance on creating a positive safety culture, take a look at our blog.