A near miss incident is exactly what it sounds like: an incident that nearly misses damage or personal injury. The problem with a near miss incident, though, is that given very slight changes in environment or behavior, damage or injury is likely to have occurred.
Near miss incidents can be found in the workplace everyday with the potential to cause damage or injury the longer they fail to be reported or dealt with.
Near Miss: A subset of incidents that could have resulted in injury, illness or property damage if given a different set of circumstances but did not. Essentially a “close call.”
Incident: An unplanned, undesired event that hinders the completion of a task and may cause injury, illness or property damage or some combination of all three in varying degree from minor to catastrophic.
When it comes to near misses, a good safety practice for any company is to always report and investigate. An investigation only serves to better the company by understanding why the incident occurred. An understanding of what caused the near miss can help employers gain information that can be used as a learning and training tool, avoiding re-occurrence and potential harm. A near miss investigation should always be used to discover the root cause, never to place blame or accuse an employee.
If a near miss goes unreported it will go without an investigation, leaving room for damage, injury, spoiled company reputation, and costly insurance premiums. Always report a near miss. The opportunity to correct personnel, equipment and procedural issues is introduced with a report and investigation of each near miss. This opportunity can open the door for policy and procedure updates, staff training, improved safety plans and the chance to engage all levels of personnel in order to pro-actively avoid hazards or re-occurrence.