Near Miss Incidents
Most accidents occur as a result of an unsafe condition or unsafe action. The end result is a person gets injured. Often unsafe acts or unsafe conditions have several misfires and the result is a near miss accident or incident. The only difference between a near miss and an accident is luck.
What is a “near miss?” Webster defines it as: “A result that is nearly, but not quite, successful.” What does this mean to industry? It simply means that a serious accident almost occurred. Someone trips over a pallet, but doesn’t fall. Two forklifts almost collide at a corner. A tool is dropped, but toes are missed…this time.
When incidents like these happen, most workers are simply relieved they were not injured and then, moments later, forget about what happened. However, when employees narrowly avoid an accident or injury, everyone should assume they are at risk of that same accident or injury. Another person, possibly the employee with the close call, is very likely to be injured by that very same hazard on a future date. In fact, the difference between a near miss and a serious injury is often a fraction of an inch or a split second of time. Near misses are red flags waving at employees to let them know something is very wrong or unsafe and requires immediate attention.
No matter how trivial they are, near miss incidents should be reported as soon as possible to a supervisor just as you would report an accident.
Employees should be encouraged and reminded periodically to report near misses that occur so that corrective action can be taken to prevent a similar incident that may result in a serious injury.
The Same Things That Cause Accidents Cause Near Misses:
Unsafe acts such as improper lifting, walking under an overhead load, cutting, grinding, or chipping without safety glasses, not using proper Personal Protective Equipment, etc.;
Unsafe conditions such as poorly maintained equipment, oil or grease on floors, welding leads that have been laid in walkways, trash and boxes that have been left in hallways, etc.;
Hurrying and taking risks to get a project done faster or wrap up a job at quitting time; and
- Distractions or not concentrating on the task that is being performed.
Report Near Misses Before They Become Accidents:
Once a near miss occurs, report it immediately to the nearest foreman or supervisor. The potential for such incidents exists all over the workplace, so all employees—not just supervisors– must help identify them.
If the near miss is a result of an unsafe condition, don’t continue to work under that condition. Wait until the problem has been corrected and your supervisor gives the okay to proceed.
If the incident is a result of unsafe acts, be certain that everyone involved has been alerted to their actions before they continue with the job.
Near Misses Are A Warning:
Near misses are warnings that something or someone is not performing the job correctly. Always pay attention to near misses. Don’t let near misses repeat themselves or you may find yourself or a co-worker being treated for an injury that could have been avoided.
Letting a near miss go unreported provides an opportunity for a serious accident to occur. Correcting these actions or conditions will enhance the safety within your facility and provide a better working environment for everyone involved. Don’t let yourself or coworkers become statistics–report near misses to your supervisor.
Hazard and Near Miss Follow Up Procedure Elements Should Include:
An investigation report;
Recommendations for correction;
A report of appropriate actions taken; and
Final approval sign-off by a responsible person.
Accident prevention starts from near miss prevention!!
Download flyer: SMOTW_45_Near Miss Incidents.pdf (112.66 kb)