NEAR MISS — near misses describe incidents where, given a slight shift in time or distance, injury, ill-health or damage easily could have occurred, but did not, this time. Near-miss reporting and investigation identify and control safety or health hazards before they cause a more serious incident. Have you had any near miss accidents?
WHERE DID THE TERM “NEAR MISS” ORIGINATE? The near miss concept stems from a 1931 “Safety Pyramid” developed by H.W. Heinrich, an industrial safety expert. His theory proposes that for every 300 near miss incidents, 29 minor injuries occur and one major injury occurs. Although his theory was never statistically proven, the concept has proven effective. By identifying what could have potentially happened after a near miss and correcting those workplace processes, procedures or conditions, the number of near miss incidents, and/or injuries, should decrease over time. Make sense? Look at it this way: If we know where the holes are in a floor, then we can plan to step around the holes and not into them.
LEARNING FROM A NEAR MISS A near-miss is such a great learning experience: except for the outcome, a near-miss resembles an accident in almost every other respect. It has the same direct cause, and very similar if not identical contributing factors, and the same root cause. If you can figure out what went wrong and correct the problems, you can prevent a serious incident. Investigating a near miss, or investigate near-misses with the same dedication and interest that you look at accidents will provide you with life saving information. Ask yourself these questions, Can you identify the direct cause, the indirect cause(s) and the contributing factor(s)? What conditions in the workplace, or actions by individuals, contributed? What fixes will you put in place that will prevent a similar event in the future?
ACCIDENT/INCIDENT/NEAR MISS INVESTIGATIONOne of the best ways to avoid further accidents is to understand how an accident occurred and how to avoid that type of accident in the future. The accident investigation is a tool. The goal is not to lay blame. The goal in an accident investigation is to: Satisfy legal requirements (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health? NIOSH, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration? OSHA)
INVESTIGATE ALL NEAR MISSES Conduct an investigation as soon as possible following the event to gather all the necessary facts, determine the true causes of the event, and develop recommendations to prevent a recurrence. Get there as quickly as possible. Ensure area is safe to enter. Make sure injured person has first-aid or medical attention required. Look for witnesses. Record the scene with photos (ideally date and time printed) or sketches. Safeguard any evidence. Establish what happened. Stop Observe Record and Participate
ACCIDENT ANALYSIS REPORTING NEAR MISS ASK YOUR SELF THESE QUESTIONS: Why was this incident considered a “near miss”? What could have occurred if the process continued to failure? Was a decision in the process a contributing factor for the near miss? If an employee was not involved, would the “Near Miss” have occurred?
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