What is Near-Miss Reporting?
You might think that if you almost have an accident, then there's no need to tell anyone about it. You might feel embarrassed and worry about being humiliated by your colleagues, but reporting a close call can contribute to eliminating unforeseen hazards. To maximise the health and safety of your workplace environment, it's not enough to report accidents only after they happen. You need also to build any potential dangers into your risk assessment programme.
The Safety Triangle
Not quite having an accident is so frequent that it was developed into a scientific theory, known as Heinrich's Law. In this theory, Heinrich used the laws of probability to create a pyramid (often called a Safety Triangle) of incidence, demonstrating that for every major injury that actually occurs in the workplace, there are 300 that don't. There are also 29 minor injuries in the pyramid, showing a ratio of proportion from the many near misses at the base to the single serious or fatal accident at the top. The figures are for academic purposes and don't represent actual statistics, but the principle stands as a foundation of 20th-century health and safety management.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says that a near-miss event doesn't cause actual harm in terms of injury or ill health, but that it has the potential to do so. It might also cause damage to property, and can be classed alongside the required reporting for dangerous occurrences under the RIDDOR regulations. Near-miss reporting can help to reinforce your organisation's safety culture. As part of your safety training, you should promote the active participation of all employees in reporting any near-miss incident. Building up a picture of these incidents enables workplace injuries to be reduced, so staff members should be reassured that sharing isn't shameful.
Benefits of monitoring near misses
There are only so many times you can write off a near miss as "no harm done" before some harm actually occurs. Monitoring near misses can help to improve workplace health and safety in several ways:
- Identifying systemic issues
- Discerning patterns in how or when things go wrong
- Reducing, mitigating or eliminating risks and hazards
- Improving property and equipment maintenance
- Improving H&S training
- Developing more effective H&S policies and encouraging compliance
- Enhancing overall safety culture
The net result is that the number of workplace incidents will diminish - so your organisation will save time and money.
Near-miss reporting is generally internal to the organisation, unless it's an event that falls within the scope of RIDDOR. To aid in recording such incidents, you should set up a Near-Miss Book (one is published by the HSE), in which you can record details of the event. These should include the date, time and location of the incident, the type of event that occurred, and who experienced the near miss. The name of any witness(es) should be included, together with a relevant line manager or supervisor, and what remedial action was taken.
Do you have any queries about near-miss reporting? At WSS, we're always happy to talk to you about health and safety matters.