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If your organisation can report and act on your near misses you can radically reduce the number of accidents that occur, the benefits here are huge and the costs are minimal. This is a big win for improving safety and reducing costly accidents.
So, there are different definitions out there, but in this article, we will say and an accident is an unplanned, unwelcome event that resulted in harm and a near miss is an unplanned, unwelcome event that did not result in harm but could have done, a close shave in essence.
Depending on how you measure these things you will typically have around ten near misses for every one accident. Near misses are therefore a much bigger data set for identifying the real hazards in your operation. Even better when you investigate near-misses people tend to be much more candid and forthcoming, as they are less likely to get into trouble. Acting on near misses lets you see where the accidents are going to come from and do something to make things safe before there is an accident. If you are not seeing multiple near misses reported for every accident then your team isn’t reporting them.
How do you get your team to start reporting near misses? Some companies set targets for near-miss reporting, or provide incentives or make a charity donation for every near miss reported. There are downsides to these approaches, personally, I think educating your team is the key.
Regardless of which approach or approaches you take one thing you can do to improve your near miss reporting is make the process itself easy. Big forms don’t get filled in. That brilliant three-page document you have painstakingly drafted (capturing every relevant fact about the event and tracking how your health and safety team have acted on it) won’t get filled in. Make it easy, quick and simple to record near misses, I have a sample A5 near miss report card free for you to download from my website here. The card doubles up as a safety suggestion card and the idea is that you print a load of these, give them to everyone in your organisation, your contractors and your visitors let them fill them in and pop them in your suggestion box. If you are thinking of using this card as a template why not add your telephone number or email to encourage people to phone in or email there near misses.