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The Importance of Near Miss Reporting

A near miss or near hit refers to an unplanned event that has the potential to incur loss, injury, or damage, but did not. So you may be asking yourself, why then, if the incident did not cause loss, injury, or damage, would it need to be reported to anyone? The answer is a simple one. Near misses provide opportunity to learn valuable lessons from an event that had potentially disastrous consequences.

Near miss reporting can be an important indicator of the safety culture within a company. Typically, the effectiveness of a safety program is measured by lagging indicators, such as the number of incidents, injuries, days away from work, etc. They are reactive in nature and reporting occurs AFTER the facts. Conversely, leading indicators are proactive in nature, such as safety initiatives or activities reported with the goal of preventing adverse events BEFORE they happen. Leading indicators are focused on future safety performance and continuous improvement. They are a tool that can be used not only to prevent future incidents, but also to identify faults within the system. If our goal each day is to make certain our employees go home the exact way they came to work that day, by recognizing and reporting near miss incidents, we are identifying and controlling hazards before workers are injured, resulting in a significant improvement in worker safety and enhanced safety culture.

REASONS TO REPORT NEAR MISSES:

  • By investigating near miss incidents, you can identify the root cause and the weaknesses in the system that led to the near miss.
  • Investigation results can be used to improve safety systems, control hazards, reduce risk, and learn lessons. All of these represent opportunity for training, feedback on performance, and a commitment to continuous improvement.
  • Near miss reporting is vitally important in preventing serious, fatal and catastrophic incidents that are less frequent, but far more harmful than other incidents.

Reporting should be encouraged, not discouraged. Any negative feedback will only result in a safety culture where reporting is not a priority. The intent of a near miss program is to learn a lesson once, implement appropriate controls, and share information among team members in order to prevent similar occurrences from happening in the future. It is important that we emphasize positivity, especially when it comes to reporting near misses. As professionals, we all have the same goal – ensure our employees return home each day the same way they arrived on the job – healthy and uninjured. Tracking and trending near misses, in addition to incidents, helps us achieve this goal.

This post first appeared in our quarterly publication, Robinson Report (Volume 16, Issue 4, 2018). View the full issue here.

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