close call program

How to Implement a Close Call Program


Before implementing a Close Call Program it is important to first answer the following questions:

  1. What is a Close Call?
  2. Why do you want to implement the Close Call Program? 
  3. What steps did you take to help the Close Call Program succeed?
  4. How Was it Implemented?
  5. What Have Been the Results?

What Is a Close Call?

A close call is an unplanned event or incident that has the potential to cause, but does not actually result in, human injury, environmental or equipment damage, or an interruption to normal business operation. Sometimes referred to as Near Misses or Near Hits,” these incidents are indications that something is not right in the workplace.

Why Do You Want to Implement the Close Call Program? 

For Kloeckner Metals Corporation, we implemented the Close Call Program in partnership with SafeStart® in an effort to increase employee engagement in our safety process. We were in the middle of enhancing our safety culture with the mindset that it cant be driven” just by management. We wanted a top down and bottom up” approach to safety. To help drive that engagement, we chose to take a much more liberal view of close calls and included both at-risk behaviors and hazardous conditions at work and at home.

Our hope was that by incentivizing employees to observe and submit close calls (more on that later), employees would be more engaged and would become an integral part of our injury prevention efforts both from a behavioral perspective and physical hazard standpoint. In addition, employees would be empowered to anticipate, evaluate, and control hazards at the workplace. By understanding and following this goal, we allowed our employees to immediately prevent and even eliminate most at-risk behaviors and hazards from the workplace.

Our goal in implementing the Close Call Program was also to drive desired behaviors: to help employees be aware of surroundings, their actions, and those actions of others. In addition, we wanted to further enhance understanding and application of the SafeStart® principles, integrate those SafeStart® principles into the Kloeckner Metals Corporation safety culture for continuous improvement, and assist employees with the identification of corrective actions to prevent injuries.

What Steps Did You Take to Help the Close Call Program Succeed?

A key part of the program was creating financial incentives for employees to submit Close Call Cards. We created a simple and straightforward incentive system: employees are paid for each close call submitted up to a maximum payout. As well, individual branches are encouraged to set up competitions and raffles with financial prizes. Combined, they create a “see something, say something” environment that communicates to employees that their safety comes first.

How Was It Implemented?

With support from SafeStart®, we customized cards for our branches. Employees would then obtain a card that provides the following information:

  • Name
  • Date and time of close call
  • Close call description
  • Potential Severity (Minimal, First Aid, Medical Aid, Serious Injury or Fatality)
  • SafeStart® States observed (Rushing, Frustration, Fatigue, Complacency)
  • SafeStart® Errors observed (Eyes not on Task, Mind not on Task, Line-of-Fire, Balance/Traction/Grip)
  • What SafeStart® Critical Error Reduction Technique(s) may have prevented the close call
  • Corrective Action Identified
  • Recommended Date of Corrective Action Completion

Employees would then turn those close call cards in to their supervisor for review and entry into our EHS Management System (Intelex). Weekly reports are generated and distributed throughout the organization indicating how many close calls were turned in for each location.

Each month, a report is generated by the EHS Management system with employee names and their ID and then submitted to our Payroll department for payout. As part of our Close Call Program, employees are paid for each close call submitted up to a maximum payout.

What Have Been the Results?

Since inception of the Close Call Program, which began in earnest in the 4th quarter of 2018, there have been over 17,000 close calls submitted at Kloeckner Metals Corporation. We have seen safety performance improve dramatically in that same time period and have also seen a marked improvement in our Safety Perception Survey results year over year.

Rick Gruca
Rick Gruca is Kloeckner Metals' Director of Safety, Health, Environmental & Sustainability.
close call program
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