“A near miss is an unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness or damage but had the potential to do so.”  The National Safety Council 

OSHA strongly encourages employers to investigate all incidents in which a worker was hurt, as well as close calls (“near misses”). 

Investigating a Worksite Incident

Investigating a worksite incident enables employers and workers to identify and implement the corrective actions necessary to prevent future incidents.  Incident investigations that focus on identifying and correcting root causes, not on finding fault or blame, also improve workplace morale and increase productivity, by demonstrating an employer’s commitment to a safe and healthful workplace.

Incident investigations are often conducted by a supervisor, but to be most effective, these investigations should include managers and employees working together.  When a shortcoming is identified, it is important to ask why it existed and why it was not previously addressed. 

For example:

  • If a procedure or safety rule was not followed, why was the procedure or rule not followed?
  • Did production pressures play a role, and, if so, why were production pressures permitted to jeopardize safety?
  • Was the procedure out-of-date or safety training inadequate? If so, why had the problem not been previously identified, or, if it had been identified, why had it not been addressed?

How Can Employers Encourage Workers to Participate in Near Miss Reporting?

  • Create a policy and procedure that is communicated to all employees with the backing of senior management.
  • Promote a culture of reporting with the support and help of all managers and supervisors.
  • Educate employees on the reason why near miss reporting is a necessity, the important role that they play, and the process for reporting.
  • Ensure that the near miss reporting process is easy to understand and use.
  • Continue to communicate on the importance of near miss reporting, encouraging the participation of all employees.
  • Use the near miss reporting as a leading indicator and report back to the organization on the positive steps taken to improve workplace safety.
  • Reinforce with employees that near miss reporting is non-punitive.
  • Consider incentives that encourage reporting and enhance the culture. (Incentives that have the potential to discourage reporting must be avoided.)

An example of a poor incentive is one that recognizes supervisory and management performance based on outcome OSHA recordable rates. This type of incentive has been shown to suppress reporting and can lead to punitive actions that further undermine safety efforts.

  •  Include training for new employees as a part of their orientation.
  •  Celebrate the success and value of the near miss reporting process with all employees!

MyMomentum™, our EHS software, has built-in features that make reporting and investigating near misses simple!  Users have the ability to report a near miss and investigate themselves or assign the investigation to someone on their team. The software also includes features that facilitate transparency across your team.

Spencer-SHE has been providing Safety, Health and Environmental Compliance Guidance since 1980, offering clients cost-effective, turn-key solutions.  Contact us  here to help you to develop and maintain a safe and healthy workforce.