Have you ever nearly slipped on a wet floor but managed to catch yourself in time? In the work site, this is referred to as a near miss.
In simple terms, a near miss is an unexpected event that did not cause any harm, injury, or damage but had the potential to.
Accidentally tripping or slipping may not seem like the cause of a serious injury at first, but the Ministry of Labor’s Workplace Safety and Health Report states that slips, trips, and falls are one of the top three workplace significant injury causes, alongside machinery accidents and falls from heights.
That’s why it is important to have a proper reporting system to record and address near-miss incidents and prevent workplace accidents.
This article will cover everything you need to know about near misses, incidents, hazards, and how near misses can be reported and prevented.
What is a Near Miss?
A near miss is an unexpected or unintentional incident that could have caused harm, minor or severe injuries, or even death, but was narrowly avoided. A near miss could have been caused by human error or inadequate safety procedures or systems at a company.
Differences between Near Miss, Incident, and Hazard
An incident refers to any unplanned event resulting in injury, damage, or other types of loss.
The key is that something has occurred and caused injury, illness, damage, or even death. “Accident” is another word commonly used to describe an incident resulting in severe consequences and may be used interchangeably with “Incident.”
A hazard is anything that has the potential to cause harm to a person, equipment, or property.
The difference between a hazard and a near miss is that a “hazard” describes the potential for something to occur, while a “near miss” indicates that something unplanned has happened but did not result in an injury/illness or damage but had the potential to do so.
For example, a puddle on the floor from a spilled drink is a hazard since it could potentially cause harm. On the other hand, a worker experiences a near miss when he nearly slips but regains his balance and avoids getting injured.
- Incident — something has happened and resulted in injury, illness, damage, or death. (a worker trips on an unmarked step, falls, and hits his head).
- Hazard — something that could cause a dangerous event (an unmarked step).
- Near Miss — something has happened but did not result in any injury, illness, damage, or death (a worker trips on an unmarked step but regained his balance which did not result in injury).
What are Examples of Near Misses?
Some near-miss examples include:
- A crew member working without a safety helmet falls but is saved by a fellow employee nearby.
- A crew member is working to fix a ship’s hull on a platform when suddenly, the board breaks, but his life belt saves him.
- A site manager working with poor lighting almost falls over an undetected extension cord but avoids a fall by grabbing a nearby railing.
- A worker accidentally touched an exposed cable from high-voltage equipment but did not get electrocuted as it was already turned off.
- A person jumps out of the way to avoid a collision with a swinging suspended load.
How to Report Near Misses (With Examples)
Regardless of the industry or size of the business, near misses occur frequently. They may be viewed as warning signs of unidentified work site issues. Companies should track near misses to prevent accidents rather than waiting for one to happen.
At its core, a near-miss report should lead to hazard resolutions and preventative action by allowing your management to review the situation and take proper action to prevent future accidents.
A near-miss reporting system typically consists of 5 steps — Identify, Report, Investigate, Intervene, and Review.
- Identify: employees should be trained to recognise a near-miss event when it happens and understand the importance of near-miss reports in preventing workplace accidents.
- Report: To help employees, they should have a convenient and easy-to-understand system, along with near-miss reporting templates that allow them to fill in the near-miss details without too much additional work.
- Investigate: The company’s management should investigate every near-miss report to prevent near misses and future accidents.
- Intervene: After reviewing the near-miss incident, the company’s management should take the proper actions to prevent potential accidents.
- Review: At this stage, any similar near-miss incidents should be prevented, and the company’s management would review the safety practices or safety programme and adjust if necessary.
Even if there isn’t an existing near miss reporting system in your work site, near misses can still be reported informally. Text messages to your employer are an example of an informal near-miss report.
The National Safety Council can also provide solutions and assistance if the proper steps are unavailable to ensure work site safety.
How can Near Misses be prevented?
1. Keep an eye out for hazards
Staying alert for hazards while moving around the workplace is one way to prevent near misses. Near misses are accidents waiting to happen, and the more you take the initiative in recognising and reporting near misses, the less likely an accident will happen.
2. Follow safety rules
Safety rules set in your work site are important because they are meant to protect employees. Following safety rules, such as wearing the required Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), dress code, and following proper work procedures, are all rules that should be always followed, even if you think that performing a task differently may save you time.
When rules are followed, employees can work more efficiently and smoothly, knowing they won’t have any work site accidents. This creates a positive atmosphere, and everyone can be more comfortable at work.
3. Use a Control Of Work system
The SOL-X Control of Work system provides a smart worksite-connected platform with live dashboards that allow for real-time worksite visibility of front-line operations by presenting live worker locations, their identities, and the activities they are working on.
This ensures near real-time monitoring of operations and a holistic overview of cumulative risk and high-risk activities happening in the work site.
With situational awareness on the ground, superiors can take fast corrective action at any time when reviewing the present situation or upcoming trends.
4. Use wearables and IIoT technology
The SOL-X Crew Protect leverages IIoT and AI technology to increase visibility and situational awareness for workers.
Through connected wearable features on the SOL-X SmartWatch, workers are given crucial information about their working conditions, hazard exposure periods, and other work-related hazards.
In addition, real-time interventions like GeoFence notifications are delivered on their wearables when they get close to dangerous zones. Avoiding that location immediately lowers the likelihood of an incident and gives employees more control over how they carry out their preventive measures.
Finally, the SmartWatch encourages positive behavior by sending notifications telling workers to drink water and take breaks as necessary when they are in a high temperature setting or heart rate.
5. Regularly analyse data
Regularly analysing data via trend analysis reporting allows your organisation to uncover high-risk areas and activities that may be previously unknown. Using this data, mitigation and safety programmes can be revised to lower the risk of incidents.
It is also equally important to ensure that all areas of the organisation are aware of the findings and analyses, and corrective procedures are in place to raise awareness of the recent risks that were found in the work site and new proper safety procedures.
Prevent Near Miss Accidents with SOL-X
Near-miss accidents can be tricky to catch, but with the latest IIoT technology by SOL-X, you can better prevent and protect your workers from near misses. Contact us to learn more about our safety solutions today.