Near miss feature, what you need to know to stay safe on job sites
Near miss feature, what you need to know to stay safe on job sites
Near miss feature, what you need to know to stay safe on job sites
By Tania Clarke   |  
February 3rd, 2016

Near misses – what you need to know

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Near misses; the silent alarm

Workplace injuries have a negative impact on your business, with much more than financial costs to consider. A reduction in productivity, lower staff morale and a damaged reputation are just some of the other costs associated with injuries in the workplace.

When it comes to workplace injuries many companies wait for a loss to occur before taking action, resulting in a reactive approach to safety. But what if there was a process that companies could put in place to prevent workplace injuries from happening?

Imagine you are working on a busy construction site and have just started work for the day. You and your five-man team are carrying out trenching works on site when a brick falls from temporary scaffolding some three metres above, narrowly missing one of your team members.

Relieved that your co-worker was not hurt, you all count your lucky stars and finish the day with no further issues.

“What if”

But what if the conditions were slightly different and your co-worker had been standing just a few centimetres to the left where the brick fell, this near miss could have quite easily ended differently.

Everyone knows that construction sites are filled with high-risk work activities making them dangerous places to work. But near misses are not just confined to construction sites, consider near miss events that office workers, healthcare professionals and warehouse workers might encounter.

An office worker has been asked to change over some signage, unable to locate a ladder, the worker makes use of an office chair, wheeling it into position. Applying pressure to close the poster stand the chair moves back and the worker narrowly avoids falling by grabbing the back rest of the chair.

A patient scheduled for surgery on his right arm is prepped for surgery, the doctor is just about to make the first cut when he notices that no preoperative markings are present on the arm. When double checking the surgery notes they realise that the wrong arm has been prepped and the surgery is for the patient’s other arm.

A new warehouse worker operating a forklift not equipped with sound-producing or visual devices is reversing, without looking behind him. A worker stacking boxes is nearly struck but jumps out of the way just in time.

Near miss events and injuries occur in the workplace every day, and where there is a near miss worker’s should not assume they or others are not in danger of history repeating itself.

What is a near miss?

A 2013 case study developed on near miss reporting systems through an alliance by the National Safety Council (NSC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines a near miss as an unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness, or damage – but had the potential to do so.

Where a near miss is generally the result of a faulty process or management system, according to the 2013 case study released.

The importance of reporting near misses

Think about the last time you had a close call or near miss at work? Did you overlook it, as you or someone you know came out the other side seemingly unscathed? No matter how insignificant a near miss event may seem, there are lessons to be learned in reporting these types of events. Near misses often referred to as ‘gold nuggets’ as they provide the ideal opportunity to reduce the risk before any loss can occur.

In fact, history has proven that the significance of a near miss should not be ignored as “75 per cent of all accidents are preceded by one or more near misses,” according to the National Safety Council.

Taking a proactive approach towards near miss reporting, forces companies to look at what could have happened, and avoid it happening in the future by questioning:

  • What happened and why?
  • What can we learn from what happened?
  • What needs to change?

Analysis of near miss events is essential to yielding safety improvements, by identifying the potential for injury and identify management systems and processes in need of improvement.

How to implement near miss reporting

A proactive approach is better than a reactive one. These tips will help you implement a near miss reporting system:

  • Develop a near miss notification policy, procedure and form.
  • Employee participation is key. Workers must be trained in near miss reporting. They also need to know why near miss reporting is important.
  • Near miss reporting systems should be kept simple and be easy to use.
  • Develop a near miss reporting system that is free from blame or punishment.
  • Share learnings from near miss investigations with the organisation to prevent future incidents and re-iterate that the programme is operational.

Get started right away by downloading the free iAuditor template below.

Download the Near Miss Notification Form

Tip: The above checklist is best downloaded when you’re on your mobile device. It will upload into your templates library in iAuditor.

Words by Monica Booker

Important Notice
The information contained in this article is general in nature and you should consider whether the information is appropriate to your specific needs. Legal and other matters referred to in this article are based on our interpretation of laws existing at the time and should not be relied on in place of professional advice. We are not responsible for the content of any site owned by a third party that may be linked to this article. SafetyCulture disclaims all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded) for any error, inaccuracy, or omission from the information contained in this article, any site linked to this article, and any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.