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Understanding incident reporting: The employee perspective

The objective of the present research was to explore the number of accidents and near misses that occur in New Zealand organisations, the proportion of these incidents that are reported, and the factors influence that their reporting. Most of the research in the area of incident reporting, underreporting and promoting reporting has used qualitative analysis, asking participants to discuss the barriers to reporting incidents. By applying decision making theories to incident reporting, a framework was created for assessing previous research, as well as collecting data on factors that influence employee’s decisions to reporting incidents. A sample of 689 participants took part in the study by completing a 26-item questionnaire. Twelve New Zealand organisations, two providing health services, three involved in power supply, four involved in construction, two supplying heavy machinery and equipment and one government department, provided a sample of employees that was representative of their business to complete the questionnaire. Where practical organisations provided a copy of their current incident form, so that differences in incident form design could be compared to questionnaire answers. On average, the participants in the present research reported experiencing 3.61 incidents annually, and reported 86.1% of the incidents they experienced. Based on the differences in organisation incident and reporting rates, the present research has supported the conclusion that incident reporting is associated with lower incident rates (Phimister et al., 2000; Reason, 1990, Storgard et al., 2012). The key factors associated with increased incident reporting were training on what and how to report an incident, confidence in one’s understanding of the reporting process, incident form usability, and whether the time estimated to complete an incident form was perceived as reasonable. All of positive, negative and practical reasons for reporting or not reporting incidents that were presented to participants were found to be important to employees. It appears that the combination of these factors influence incident reporting. However, overall positive reasons were rated the most important, followed by practical, and negative reasons. The present research has expanded the knowledge and understanding of employee perceptions of incident reporting. If an organisation would like to promote incident reporting in their workplace, an organisation specific approach is required. However, key actions include ensuring that all employees are trained in what and how to report an incident, and ensuring that their incident form is quick and easy to use. When considering the incident form, the design and usability should be reviewed from an employee perspective. An organisation could also review how the positive, negative and practical reasons discussed in the present research could be motivating or deterring incident reporting in their workplace. There are five key areas of interest that future research could address. These areas are the content of training and its impact on incident reporting, different elements of incident form design and their impact on incident reporting, how factors combine and interact to influence decisions to report incidents, whether the number of incidents experienced and reported differ across organisations, industries and countries, and the effect of accountability and individual responsibility on safety.
Type of thesis
MacKenzie, P. M. (2015). Understanding incident reporting: The employee perspective (Thesis, Master of Applied Psychology (MAppPsy)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9520
University of Waikato
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