Near Miss, Observations and Good Catch
Events are happening every day at facilities throughout the US that employers are not aware of. These events are close calls where something occurs and almost causes an accident, injury, property damage, or could have caused fatality. Another term for the close call is a “near miss.”
Often the participants or “victims” of the event keep it to themselves or try to hide it for fear of getting in trouble. They may be shaken by the event or not even recognize it as something to act on.
One common safety model uses an iceberg theory where the near miss events occur under the surface undetected, then after a certain number of events occur actual injuries and property damage occurs eventually leading to a fatality. This is ALL preventable and takes the efforts of everyone to prevent this from occurring, You are the eyes and ears onsite which can prevent an incident from occurring.
Take a moment to watch this excellent video which highlights proactive efforts to identify and mitigate hazards.
It is clear that near misses have causation and root causes/conditions are frequently the same as causation for accidents, injuries, and fatalities. Without this valuable data, safety program efforts operate with a blind spot.
A near-miss report brings the potential for preventative/corrective action BEFORE an incident occurs. Reporting near misses and having a system to manage the data can help reduce risk, claims, and loss potential.
A near-miss reporting program creates a system that does the following:
Communicates what a near miss is by defining the terminology and how the company is going to use it (i.e. a near miss at XYZ Company includes…).
Provides a clear and easy method to report the near miss such as an actual index card or card style via computer, a near miss section in the existing EHS enterprise system, or via safety committee members.
Establishes a process for reviewing, prioritizing, and acting on near-miss reports (i.e. red, yellow, and green flags with action requirements, action required on all near misses, or only items deemed appropriate by the committee).
Encourages participation by employees.
Best practices for near-miss reporting also incorporate the data into a forward-looking metrics system where the data can be counted and measured. For instance, the following items could be counted as a result of a near-miss report:
The report itself:
- Corrective or preventative action as a result of the report.
- A behavior or process improvement developed as a result of the report.
- Capital or expense used to mitigate the item.
- Risk score reduction for that task is based on implementing preventative actions.
- The near-miss process is a living program where forward-looking metrics may be able to aid in redirecting or steering safety efforts. Establishing a frequent review can help identify metrics that have the biggest effect on safety and risk, thus shifting focus toward more of that work; discontinuing in areas that sounded good but didn’t really help.
The key differences:
- Unsafe Conditions can be defined as workplace environment risks to workers that may or may not have been identified, such as biological, chemical, electrical, environmental, mechanical, and physical conditions.
- Unsafe Acts can be defined as an employee ignoring the prescribed safety standards or company policies risking themselves and or others.
- Near Miss describes an incident that didn't result in an injury or damage.
- Good Catch describes a situation where an incident of any type was avoided.
Why is it important to report these?
Proactive monitoring—Near misses are symptoms of undiscovered safety concerns. Near-miss reporting can help the company be proactive when it comes to identifying negative trends and safeguarding employees. This, in turn, can help reduce workplace accidents overall and increase company safety culture.
The purpose of reporting is to ensure that all near-miss incidents (including minor incidents) are reported, recorded, and investigated. Reporting and sharing information with relevant parties creates an opportunity to answer the questions of what happened and why and then use this insight to determine how to prevent a reoccurrence. Following the steps outlined will:
- Promote an open, learning culture in regard to workplace safety;
- Employ a systematic approach for all employees to report near-miss incidents;
- Encourage an opportunity to gain understanding and insight from an incident’s analysis;
- Utilize that knowledge to prevent or reduce future risk of reoccurrence; and
- Support management’s goal of establishing a reporting culture with an aim to identify and control hazards, reduce risk and prevent harmful incidents.
How can You Help?
Identifying the hazards around you daily is important in mitigating possible injury. For urgent risks, notify the onsite safety representative. If you cannot mitigate the risk yourself, contact the Safety Department.
November Near-Miss Winners
• Jason Villines
• Samuel Ready