Reporting Near Misses

Reporting Near Misses

05/06/2015

Building a safer work environment is easier to achieve when everyone works together. Near-miss reporting is a big part in this process. Your near miss today could be your or someone else’s injury or accident tomorrow.

Reporting Near Misses


A “near miss,” is an unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness, or damage – but had the potential to do so. A simple example of this would be a fall when exiting a vehicle and that fall does not result in an injury. Certainly, it is very possible to sustain a serious injury, like a broken bone, from falling from a vehicle.


Effective accident and injury revention requires both reactive and proactive actions to be taken. Waiting for a loss to occur and then taking the necessary steps to prevent a recurrence is taking a reactive approach to safety. Filing down a sharp edge on a piece of equipment, like on a dolly crank, after someone cuts their hand on it, is an example of such a reactive approach to safety. Often times, near miss incidents precede a serious injury but are largely ignored because nothing (no injury, damage, or loss) happened. In the example of a sharp edge on a dolly crank, it is very possible that other persons knew of the sharp edge and perhaps even were scratched by it, yet did not report the hazard for it to be fixed. A proactive approach to safety, reporting the hazard, could have prevented the injury from occurring. Reporting near misses also applies to incidents that could have resulted in damage to property. Consider the following example:

  • Incident:    After maintenance was completed, the shop supervisor gives the truck’s driver permission to back the truck out of the shop.  While backing out of the shop, the driver brakes hard when he sees that he is within inches of another vehicle, later  determined to be a car of a visitor of the shop.
  • Possible outcome:    The tractor made contact with the car’s corner panel causing over $1200 in damages.
  • Reason:    The visitor could not find a place to park along the building.
  • Remedial action:    “No Parking” signage has been installed around shop doors. Company vehicles are now being parked further away from the shop to allow additional parking for visitors.

Think of near misses as cheaper, zero-cost learning opportunities to prevent injuries and damage to property (compared to learning from actual injury or property loss events). The lessons learned help identify defects in the system.


Building a safer work environment is easier to achieve when everyone works together. Near-miss reporting is a big part in this process. Your near miss today could be your or someone else’s injury or accident tomorrow.

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