This week’s Safetip is about near miss reporting. Organizations that have a robust near miss reporting system in place can improve their safety culture and prevent incidents by identifying workplace hazards. There are a number of ways to encourage near miss reporting, including and the .
Clearly Define a “Near Miss” and Communicate the Definition
Once an organization decides to implement near miss reporting, one of the first steps consists of . As part of the training, the definition of a “near miss” must be well explained to all employees to ensure that everybody has a common understanding. A white paper by the National Safety Council provides the following definition of a near miss:
A Near Miss is an unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness, or damage – but had the potential to do so. 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.
An OHS Insider article also offers some perspective on the definition of a near miss. If the overriding objective is to improve workplace safety, it makes sense for the definition to be broad and encompass a wide range of events, according to the article. OHS Insider suggests the following definition:
A near miss is an opportunity to improve health and safety in a workplace based on a condition or an incident with potential for more serious consequences, including:
- Unsafe conditions, such as wet floors.
- Unsafe behavior, such as a worker modifying PPE for comfort while impacting its effectiveness.
- Minor incidents/injuries that had potential to be more serious.
- Events where injury could have occurred but didn’t.
- Events where property damage could have resulted but didn’t.
- Events where a safety barrier was challenged, such as a worker bypassing a machine guard.
- Events where potential environmental damage could have resulted but didn’t.
The definitions from the National Safety Council and OHS Insider are not mutually exclusive. They can complement each other, and a definition of a near miss in your organization can include elements from both. The key takeaways are:
- Clearly define what constitutes a near miss in your organization.
- Communicate the definition to workers as part of the training on near miss reporting.
- Frequently remind workers of the definition of a near miss. For example, communicate the results of reported near misses to make the definition clear, facilitate learning, and improve safety.
Finally, remember that defining a near miss is just the beginning. The most important thing is to analyze the reported data on near misses, look for patterns and trends, and act upon it.
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