Most accidents are predictable by near-misses. Simply put, a near-miss is a close call, and it feels like a relief. It is an accident that almost happened, or even did happen, but didn't cause any injury on this particular occasion. A near-miss can occur when:- A worker trips over an extension cord that lies across the floor but prevents the fall by grabbing the desk corner; or
- An outward opening door nearly hits an employee, but they manage to jump back just in time.
These are just a couple of examples, but you surely can get the picture. When situations like these happen, it is easy to move on and forget what happened. But, when your employees avoid an accident or injury, neither they nor you should ignore it. Why? Because someone, whether the employee who already had the near-miss or someone else, is very likely to get injured eventually by the same hazard, That is why near-misses are predictable.
Some people may be tempted to dismiss close calls as 'no harm, no foul' situations, but the sole difference between the close call and a severe injury might just be a split second or a fraction of an inch. Neglecting to follow up on a near-miss is a significant risk factor because it increases the chances that the issue will come up again. Therefore, the question safety leaders need to ask is, 'How do you ensure that a near-miss doesn't become a serious incident?'
According to a fact sheet from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Safety Council (NSC), a near-miss is an “unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness or damage – but had the potential to do so.” The fact sheet underlines that although near-misses cause no immediate harm, they can precede situations in which a loss or injury could happen.
Collecting near-miss reports can help you create a culture that seeks to identify and control hazards, which can reduce risks and the potential for injuries. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there are roughly 90 near-misses for every accident.
Near-miss reporting requires clear and seamless communication throughout the organization. Over time, proper near-miss reporting will result in a trove of accurate and potentially life-saving data, crucial for communicating a clear, straightforward policy on the reporting process.
How is it Done?
First, you have to define what is meant by a near-miss in your organization. The definition can then be tailored to be relevant to your organization and industry. Near-miss situations should be made known to all personnel involved in safety reporting.
Frequent discussion of near-misses normalizes reporting and creates a clear line of communication between workers and management. By asking about near-misses in daily meetings or reporting dashboards, you can turn attention to recurring issues that need to be addressed.
Ensure to establish a transparent chain of command and protocol for addressing near-misses, including near-miss reporting, analysis, prioritization, and finding solutions. The perfect tool for such operations is The Checker Pro, which can be used to track and manage near-misses in your organization.