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The importance of ‘near miss’ reporting

‘Near miss’ reporting is an important part of an effective health and safety management system.  Reporting can reduce the likelihood of actual accidents taking place and in turn prevent physical harm or property damage.

Having an effective ‘near miss’ reporting system can transform your safety culture by showing employees that all incidents, even those that don’t cause them harm, are taken seriously.

What is a ‘near miss’?

An unwanted/undesired event that does not cause any harm or ill health but had the potential to do so. Reporting them is necessary to prevent the likelihood of the event happening again and someone really getting hurt.

‘Near miss’, incident or accident – what’s the difference?

It is important to understand the difference between the three, especially when explaining to employees, because a clear understanding of each term will aid reporting.

‘Near miss’: A subset of an incident; it is an event that did not result in harm but had the potential to do so. An example would be a box of heavy items falling from some overhead racking.

Incident: Any unplanned/undesired event in the workplace, regardless of whether there is physical harm or property damage, is deemed an incident. Incidents disrupt the regular working pattern in the workplace.

Accident: An unwanted event that resulted in physical injury or property damage. Using the above example, if the box and its contents landed on an employee, this would be deemed an accident. Physical harm has now taken place.

Each must each be recorded and a system for each should be integrated with training provided so employees understand the process and can act upon this.

Why you should never ignore a ‘near miss’

‘Near miss’ incidents are an indication that additional safety measures are needed. Ignoring them can prove harmful and in some safety critical industries such as construction, disregard of them can result in fatalities if a similar incident was to happen again. They provide an opportunity to implement measures to prevent unwanted events, to learn from them and to see whether the incident reporting system in place is fit for purpose.

If you would like advice or a helping hand with the management of safety in your workplace, get in touch with our team on 01302 341 344 for a chat.

By Aaron Moxam GradIOSHRisk Consultant


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