Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A culture of reporting, and a culture of safety
Guest Blog by the Alpine Near Miss Survey's Cory Jackson 

The Alpine Near-Miss Survey “First 100 Reports” project is underway. We are collecting near-miss reports to support a presentation at ITRS in November, and have been excited about the results so far. But the more reports we receive the better! We are hoping to encourage as many mountain rescue near-miss reports as possible over the next couple of weeks. Read on, and hopefully you’ll find an incentive to do so.

The goal of near-miss research is simply to prevent accidents and injuries. The phrase “near-miss” typically refers to an unintended, unsafe situation that could have resulted in injury but for a fortuitous intervention. Near-miss reporting systems are common safety tools used in high-risk, high-consequence industries such as commercial aviation, nuclear power generation and chemical production. These industries study near-misses because they can outnumber reported accidents at least ten-to-one. Near-misses also share many of the same root causes as reported accidents. Further, near-miss data is useful information that would not be reported but for a specialized reporting system. Finally, analyzing near-misses is proactive rather than reactive: we can identify unsafe trends before they result in injury.

More importantly, positive reporting cultures – those organizational cultures that adopt reporting systems and embrace the value of sharing near-miss reports – are indicative of cultures of safety. Organizational cultures are heavily studied by academics and management consultants, but for our purposes, culture is important simply because is pervades an organization. And because safety cultures are pervasive, they are particularly effective at preventing accidents. Near-miss reporting can facilitate and encourage cultures of safety.

Successful voluntary near-miss reporting systems typically employ platforms that share four attributes.

1. Reporting is anonymous or confidential or both
2. Incidents are reported to an agency that is wholly separate and distinct    from any agency that may govern or regulate the workplace or activity
3. Reports are rapidly published giving timely feedback to reporters
4. Reporting is easy and quick

For these reasons, we designed the Alpine Near-Miss Survey to be a nonprofit, independent entity that is not owned or controlled by an agency that regulates mountain rescuers, mountain guides, or recreational climbers. Second, the online platform and mobile reporting app make reporting simple and fast. And reporters can read their report on the website and see it shared with others within a few days of reporting their incident. We hope that these attributes will make the platform successful, and that it contributes to a culture of safety for those who work and play in the alpine environment.

Sample report from the Survey

While studying near-misses and accidents is serious business, there’s no reason why we can’t have a little fun while we’re getting the system up and running. The Alpine Near-Miss Survey is generously supported by the Petzl Foundation, and the Foundation has agreed to help us give away $1,000.00 in Petzl gear to one reporter that submits a near-miss before October 31. We hope to see that report soon! 

 Guest Bloger Cory Jackson directs and manages the Alpine Near-Miss Survey. He is one of the project’s co-founders, and is involved in all aspects of its development including report review, website and app programming and project fundraising. Cory is also a Member of the Ouray Mountain Rescue Team in Ouray, Colorado. He has worked part-time as a commercial climbing guide and instructor, and has assisted winter and summer Rigging for Rescue seminars. Finally, Cory is an attorney and has a private practice specializing in corporate, nonprofit, and commercial, and trust and estate law in Ouray, Colorado.

        Courage - Commitment - Compassion

     Mountain Rescue Association 


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