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What on earth is a near miss? And why should I care…

To make this terminology slightly more accessible – a ‘near miss’ could simply be called a ‘close call.’

What on earth is a near miss?It’s any time that someone in your workplace might have narrowly avoided injury or harm. Sounds like the best result right? An injury avoided! Great, let’s get on with our work. But actually near misses are worth a closer look.

It may sound boring and you are probably thinking, ‘Of course, the health and safety people want to investigate that near miss further.’ Perhaps you think this may be a waste of time, effort and money. After all, no one was hurt. But actually near misses – from a safety management perspective – are invaluable. Why? Well, not only did no one get hurt (yippee!) but they are also brilliant opportunities to learn about the hazards and risks in your workplace.

What’s our advice about how to use near miss data?

Essentially, as a business owner or a manager, you are trying to create a workplace that means your people will go home every night to their families happy, healthy and alive. This means, you need to recognise possible hazards and reduce the risk of injury and harm. So, it’s worthwhile starting to look at near misses as great indications of what hazards need to be addressed to improve safety in your workplace.

“Start to build a culture of reporting near misses. If near misses are reported and then properly addressed, you are doing your job to protect the health and safety of your people.”

It’s also important to note here that an organisation may be prosecuted in the case of a near miss. Yes, this can be the case even when no one has been injured. Why? Well, in some cases it may be deemed negligent of a company to have exposed people to risk – whether the likelihood of that risk is high or low. So, even more incentive to get your staff in the habit of reporting near misses.

So how can you promote and improve your near miss reporting?

  • Ask your staff at meetings of near misses that they have been involved with, and
  • Make ‘near miss’ reporting clear, simple and easy!

Once you start to get staff reporting ‘near misses’, don’t forget to establish controls to ensure that the likelihood of the ‘event’ occurring again in the future is reduced. Once you have reduced the potential impact of the hazard, then, you are doing your job – and doing it really well.

Near miss data is great information and can really help you build a stronger safety management system and this in turn can really help to decrease the chance of accidents from happening.

If you need any support with accidents or near miss information please just ask joanne@chestnutassociates.co.uk