The Difference Between Positive And Negative Incidents In Safety

Most people understand the importance of reporting safety incidents to ensure a safe workplace. Fewer understand the difference between positive and negative incidents and the important roles they both play in workplace safety. Here’s what you need to know.

Why Does Incident Reporting Matter In Safety?

You cannot ensure a safe working environment if you don't know what is happening in the workplace. This is why incident reporting is so important. It alerts the relevant parties to safety-related incidents that take place in the workplace.


The Importance Of Positive And Negative Incidents

When you think of safety incidents, chances are your mind will go to incidents like fatalities, injuries or even near-misses. While these are safety incidents, they are only one type of safety incident - negative incidents. 

There are two main types of safety incidents: Negative and positive incidents. 

Negative incidents, like the ones mentioned above, refer to incidents that have a negative consequence or have the potential to have a negative consequence. For example, a sprained ankle as a result of unsafe practice or a piece of equipment falling off a shelf and nearly hitting an employee. 

Positive incidents, on the other hand, refer to incidents that have positive consequences or have the potential to have positive consequences. For example, employees understanding safety precautions and knowing all the exit routes or all employees wearing safety helmets and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Positive incidents are just as important as negative incidents when it comes to workplace safety. Workplace safety is not simply a matter of focusing on negative incidents. The positive steps and incidents that occur in the workplace also have a big impact on the health and safety of the environment. 

If you understand all the positive incidents that are occurring in your workplace, it becomes easier to predict how safe your workplace will be going forward. This is why positive incidents are often used as leading indicators. They point to future performance.


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How To Get More Incident Reports From Every Level Of The Organisation

To make the most of a system of incident reporting, all employees at every level must engage with the system by reporting all safety incidents, both positive and negative. 

The best way to encourage employees to report incidents is to use an incident reporting channel like an online platform that is user-friendly and easily accessible to all members of staff. Employees must know this channel exists and how to use it. 

You should also ensure to respond positively to employees that report incidents. Make sure you thank them for taking the time to report the incident and take swift action to resolve any reported safety issues.


Final Thoughts

When it comes to workplace safety, it can be easy to fall into the trap of focusing only on negative incidents. However, workplace safety is so much more than identifying negative incidents to try and avoid them from occurring again. It also involves taking and recognising positive steps that contribute toward a safe work environment. Therefore, to ensure the safest possible work environment, encourage and enable employees to report all types of incidents - both negative and positive. 


If your organisation is looking for a 360° safety management tool to involve all employees, service providers and external stakeholders to improve the quality of your operations, have a look at the 30-day free trial of the Falcony Platform:

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We are building the world's first operational involvement platform. Our mission is to make the process of finding, sharing, fixing and learning from issues and observations as easy as thinking about them and as rewarding as being remembered for them.‍

By doing this, we are making work more meaningful for all parties involved.

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