OSHA defines a near miss as an unplanned event in which no property was damaged and no personal injury was sustained, but where, given a slight shift in time or position, damage or injury easily could have occurred. Reporting near misses can help prevent future workplace incidents by alerting EHS professionals of potential hazards and unsafe conditions.
Some health and safety professionals also refer to near misses as close calls, narrow escapes, good catches, or near hits.
What's the difference between an accident and a near miss?
Unlike a near miss, an accident is a type of incident that does cause an employee injury or illness, or property damage.
Because near misses don’t have serious effects, they can go unreported in some workplaces. This is unfortunate because these events are usually caused by a series of dangerous conditions that will eventually result in an accident if they go unaddressed. In other words, a near miss is an accident that's waiting to happen.
That's why OSHA strongly encourages employers to investigate ALL incidents regardless of their severity. By investigating these close calls, EHS professionals can prevent more serious incidents from occurring in the future and can better identify workplace hazards.
Want to see how you can start recording near miss incidents? Download a free near miss incident sample form!
Examples of near misses
The difficulty in defining near misses is that the definition is based on what did not happen. Safety professionals recommend defining near misses broadly to include both events, unsafe conditions, and unsafe acts. Examples include:
- An event that results in a very minor first aid injury like a small cut or scrape (rather than an OSHA recordable incident).
- A slip, trip or fall that did not result in injury.
- Dropping a piece of equipment that results in very minor damage or no damage at all.
- Spilling a small amount of a liquid or chemical that could have been hazardous if there had been a larger spill.
- A loose guard rail or damaged shield around a piece of machinery or work area that could result in damage or injury if not fixed.
How can near miss reporting systems prevent future incidents?
Reporting near miss incidents can significantly improve worker safety and enhance an organization’s safety culture. The National Safety Council (NSC) and OSHA recommend implementing the following best practices for near miss reporting:
Leadership should reinforce that every opportunity to identify and control hazards, reduce risk, and prevent harmful incidents must be acted on.
Reporting systems needs to be non-punitive and, if desired by the person reporting, anonymous.
Conduct root cause analyses to better understand the weaknesses in the system that resulted in the circumstances that led to the near miss.
Use investigation results to improve safety systems, hazard control, risk reduction, and share lessons learned.
Numerous organizations throughout North America rely on IndustrySafe Safety Management Software to report near misses and reduce workplace incidents.
Learn more how our software can save you valuable time and effort in near miss reporting and safety analysis.
What is a near miss form?
Safety professionals use near miss forms to collect relevant incident data during an investigation. On near miss forms, investigators will record the who, what, where, and how of the incident.
There are many different types of incident forms. Most forms contain the following information:
The date, time, and location of the incident
The names and accounts of involved employees and workers that witnessed the event
Root cause(s) and factors that contributed to the incident
At IndustrySafe software, we utilize a configurable template that includes all of these fields and more.
You can view an interactive version of an IndustrySafe incident form by signing up for a demo of our Software and navigating to our Incidents module. Contact us for more information about IndustrySafe's incident management software.
How IndustrySafe can help
Numerous organizations throughout North America rely on IndustrySafe’s incident management software to record and analyze safety incidents, and generate OSHA recordkeeping logs. IndustrySafe’s easy to use forms make it simple to collect data for multiple types of incidents, including near misses, vehicle and environmental incidents, and employee and non-employee injuries.
Users can analyze trends, perform root cause analysis, and assign corrective actions to better understand the causes of near misses and prevent serious incidents from occurring.
IndustrySafe’s public web form also enables all of an organization’s stakeholders to report near misses and other types of incidents via a simple web link. Users can even report incidents using a mobile device or tablet.
Interested in learning more about IndustrySafe safety software and how it can help you prevent near miss injuries? Watch this video to get an overview of what IndustrySafe has to offer.