On the surface, the terms incidents, near-misses, and accidents can seem synonymous and therefore, interchangeable. However, it’s important to know that these terms are different, and using the right one can help make reporting more accurate.

Incident - term used in safety culture referring to an unexpected event that did not cause injury or damage at that time but had the potential.

Near-miss - any unanticipated occurrence that might have resulted in physical harm or property damage but didn't.

Accident  - an unfavorable incident that occurs unintentionally and without warning and usually causes damage or injury.    

Reporting Incidents, Near-Misses, and Accidents Are Important

Because safety culture recognizes incidents, near-misses, and accidents as different occurrences, it’s important to report them accurately. Here is why:

Identifying patterns and trends

By tracking incidents, near-misses, and accidents, organizations can identify patterns and trends that may indicate underlying safety issues. This can help organizations focus their efforts on addressing the root causes of these events, rather than just the symptoms. By assessing the patterns, you can successfully eliminate them from continuing to become a hazard and issue.

Improving safety culture

By tracking incidents, near-misses, and accidents, organizations can demonstrate their commitment to safety and encourage a culture of safety within the workplace. This can help employees feel more comfortable reporting incidents and near-misses, which can help prevent future accidents.

Enhancing risk management

Through tracking incidents, near-misses, and accidents, organizations can improve their risk management efforts by identifying and addressing potential hazards before they result in a serious accident. By identifying threats or risks to the work environment and its workers, you can establish controls and implement them to ensure a safer working environment.

Complying with regulations

Many industries have regulations that require organizations to track and report incidents, near-misses, and accidents. By tracking these events, organizations can ensure that they are in compliance with these regulations. The regulations can come in the form of safety signs, active safety training, and even the consistent generation of reports that track the effectiveness of regular inspections.

Improving Incident Management with The Checker


With The Checker software, users can configure the system to create a standardized approach for incident management by allowing them to:

Track incidents and identify trends

The Checker software was designed to not only help ensure that inspections are conducted accurately, but to also provide reporting for incidents, near-misses, and accidents. The Checker provides the easiest way to document hazards, make safety commendations, and record and share your observations. When the relevant people have access to reported incidents, safety teams can identify trends by seeing the whole picture - allowing them to make better decisions on which actions to take in lowering the risk of a potential accident.

Understand why, when, and where incidents occur

By understanding the why, when, and where incidents occur, you identify potent hazards. You may even pinpoint them to specific behaviors, locations, and times in which these potentially hazardous elements may happen. This can be done so through inspections, frequent check-ups, and data analysis of incidents.

Prevent, report, and resolve incidents

Data collected from inspection software provides a lot of insight; trends can be identified from historical data allowing you to recognize levels of risk and the potential for incidents to occur again. By assessing risk, you can create better processes that address existing issues. You may find that workers need to undergo further training or equipment needs to be replaced.

Overall, tracking incidents, near-misses, and accidents can be an important part of an effective workplace safety program, as it can help organizations identify patterns and trends, improve their safety culture, enhance risk management efforts, and comply with regulations.


Tags: safety management, workplace safety


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