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Workplace Safety

Report Near Misses Too

By March 2, 2015No Comments

Every safety program depends on each minor injury being reported so patterns can be found in the data.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires injuries to be reported and logged.


The goal of these reporting requirements is to find the problem areas within job operations.


Painters and roofers will have ladder related injuries, chefs have cuts.  Prevention science can suggest avoidance techniques and technology to reduce the number of claims.


An ignored data set which can reduce injuries is the reporting of near misses.  Whether the data involves trucks backing up to a loading dock while people are walking through the zone or window washers mis-rigging their scaffold, these incidents should be reported as potential injury-occurrences.


By reporting near misses, you improve awareness and find solutions before they become injuries – the best of all worlds from a prevention perspective.


Many safety engineers suggest this reporting is too subjective.  Would people report every time a minor change in floor elevation made for uncomfortable walking?


An airplane hard landing that sets off alarms is analyzed as a near miss.  Perhaps a near miss in industry would be a load shifting on a forklift, increasing the hazard of falling objects or crush injuries.


Certainly, if loads were shifting regularly without reportable incident, smart management would want to know to fix the loading problem before someone was hurt.


So, the near miss must be of substantial potential consequence to rate a report.  Slips and falls which do not result in injury might point to a poor floor wax application or bad choices of ladders.


A fall prevented by a harness might point to a poor choice of footwear or insufficient rails.


Aging equipment becomes dangerous and near misses can be vital in determining when it’s time to buy new.


Experts do not agree on the line between over-reporting incidents and reporting enough valuable information.  The naysayer position correctly argues that employees do not appreciate reports and paperwork completed that are then ignored.  Given the potential number of incidents, many more near misses than injury events, over-reporting might breed apathy.


Report near misses when serious injury might have occurred.  Do the reverse engineering to determine the proximate causes of these near misses.  Get back to the employee making the report and thank them for their participation.  You’d rather fix the process before injury.