Near Miss

  • A Near Miss is an unplanned event that did not result in an injury or property damage, but had the potential to do so. Near miss reporting is vitally important in preventing serious incidents that are less frequent but more harmful than near-misses.
  • A near miss is a leading indicator to an accident that, if scrutinized and used correctly, can prevent injuries and damages.
  • Collecting near-miss reports helps to create a culture that seeks to identify and control hazards, which will reduce risks and the potential for harm.
  • Only a fortunate break in the chain of events prevented an injury, fatality or damage; in other words, a miss that was nonetheless very near.
  • A faulty process or management system invariably is the root cause for the increased risk that leads to the near miss and should be the focus of improvement.
  • Other familiar terms for these events are a “close call,” a “narrow escape,” or in the case of moving objects, “near collision” or a “near hit.”

Key Points

  • Incidents occur every day at the workplace that could result in a serious injury or damage.
  • A near-miss program may help prevent future incidents.
  • One problem that companies must overcome is employee’s fear of being blamed after reporting a near miss.
  • Employers need to make the process of reporting a near miss as easy as possible.

How Do Near Miss Reporting Systems Prevent Future Incidents?

  • Many safety activities are reactive and not proactive, and some organizations wait for losses to occur before taking steps to prevent a recurrence.
  • Near miss incidents often precede loss-producing events but may be overlooked as there was no harm (no injury, damage or loss).
  • An organization may not have a reporting culture where employees are encouraged to report these close calls.
  • Thus, many opportunities to prevent the incidents are lost. History has shown repeatedly that most loss producing events (incidents), both serious and catastrophic, were preceded by warnings or near miss incidents.
  • Recognizing and reporting near miss incidents can significantly improve worker safety and enhance an organization’s safety culture.

What are Best Practices in Establishing a Near Miss Reporting System?

  • Leadership must establish a reporting culture reinforcing that every opportunity to identify and control hazards, reduce risk and prevent harmful incidents must be acted on.
  • The reporting system needs to be non-punitive and, if desired by the person reporting, anonymous.
  • Investigate near miss incidents to identify the root cause and the weaknesses in the system that resulted in the circumstances that led to the near miss.
  • Use investigation results to improve safety systems, hazard control, risk reduction, and lessons learned. All of these represent opportunity for training, feedback on performance and a commitment to continuous improvement.
  • Near miss reporting is vitally important to preventing serious, fatal and catastrophic incidents that are less frequent but far more harmful than other incidents.

Why Report Near Misses?

  • A Near Miss is an unplanned event that did not result in an injury or property damage, but had the potential to do so. Given a slight shift in time or position, damage or injury easily could have occurred.
  • Such incidents are estimated to occur at a rate of 50 near-misses for each injury reported.
  • Identifying and investigating near-misses is a key element to finding and controlling risks before workers are injured.
  • The information gathered through near-miss reporting is evaluated to determine root causes and hazard mitigation strategies. “Lessons learned” are shared in a general way (you are not identified) so all employees can benefit from the findings and your near-miss does not turn into someone else’s injury!
  • Near-miss reporting is vitally important in preventing serious incidents that are less frequent but more harmful than near-misses.
  • Many safety activities are reactive, that is, they occur after an injury incident. By reporting near-miss incidents you can promote proactive safety. “Proactive” means raising awareness of potential hazards and mitigation strategies BEFORE an injury occurs.
  • Recognizing and reporting near-miss incidents can significantly improve worker safety and enhance the safety culture of the university.
  • EHS provides a Near-Miss/Close Call Incident Reporting System online for ease of reporting by answering a few questions about what happened. Report YOUR near misses and encourage your co-workers to do the same to promote safety.

Benefits to have a near-miss reporting culture in place

  • It enables companies to pro-actively resolve hazards before a tragic or costly incident occurs.
  • It engages the workforce (all workers at all levels) in solving problems.
  • It increases safety ownership and reinforces workers’ self-esteem.
  • It exposes valuable information that otherwise might not be discussed.
  • It develops a positive and necessary attitude surrounding safety.

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