The reporting of near misses and other adverse events is a key way in which employees can monitor the effectiveness of the health and safety management system. Effective near-miss reporting requires the active involvement of frontline employees – it will be them who identify such incidents and they must know how and where to report them. Line managers must also know how to deal with these reports and take corrective actions where required. Human Focus provides a range of health and safety courses for both front-line employees and managers to develop the competencies required for effective near miss reporting.
Near Miss Reporting
Human Focus Near Miss Reporting Courses
Human Focus provides four courses on near miss reporting with the aim of introducing the area of health and safety to all employees as well as drilling down into the fundamentals for managers. The courses are relevant to industry and office working environments.
What is the Definition of a Near Miss?
A near miss can be defined as an unplanned/unwanted event that did not cause harm but had the potential to cause injury, ill health or property damage. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) include dangerous occurrences as near misses.
What is Classed as a Near Miss?
Near miss reporting examples could include:
- Slipping on a spilled liquid on the floor but not actually falling onto the ground
- A construction worker tripping over a mislaid tool while working at height on scaffolding but grabbing the handrail to prevent falling,
- An object falling to the ground from a great height but not hitting anyone below.
- In addition, dangerous occurrences such as a gas leak are classed as a near miss.
These are all instances where there could have been the potential for harm but fortunately no harm was caused.
What is a Near Miss Report?
A near miss is a situation where no one has been injured, or nothing has been damaged, but easily could have been. The only real difference between a near miss and an actual accident is probability or chance. So, just like reporting actual accidents, the process will involve completing a Near-miss reporting form, describing the incident, and stipulating what immediate actions were taken to make the environment safe. Providing as much detail about the incident as possible will help the person who has been assigned to investigating it when considering what controls and preventative measures can be implemented to prevent reoccurrence.It is vital that incidents are reported as soon as possible. This is because over time details can be forgotten and as much detail as possible is required to enable the event to be thoroughly and accurately investigated. Training can be given on how forms should be completed so that employees do not feel overwhelmed when having to complete them soon after an incident. It is also important that reports are saved in a suitable location so that they can easily be acquired if and when necessary.
What are the Benefits of Near-Miss Reporting?
There are a number of benefits to reporting near misses, here are just a few:
- Improves the health and safety culture of a business
- Can prevent actual accidents from happening
- Helps to identify trends
- Shows that a company is proactive about safety as opposed to reactive
- Improved staff morale, with workers feeling that their safety is valued and taken seriously even when there is no injury or property damage
- Reports can be presented to senior management to support funding for necessary safety equipment, remedial repairs or additional training
Is Near Miss Reporting a Legal Requirement?
Reporting of all near miss incidents is not a legal requirement. However, under UK law there are certain near miss incidents that must be reported to the enforcing body, namely dangerous occurrences, of which there are 27 categories that are relevant to the majority of workplaces. Unwanted events such as the collapse of load-bearing parts of lifting equipment and lifts or the accidental and unplanned release of dangerous substances that could cause injury must be reported under RIDDOR – the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013. Should a workplace accident occur and it can be proven that a lack of near-miss reporting contributed to the event, fines, and penalties can be issued. It, therefore, goes to show the reporting near misses in the workplace makes good business sense.
What Duties Do Employers Have to Report Near Misses?
Where near miss incidents fall into the relevant dangerous occurrence category, there will be a duty on an employer to report the incident to enforcing authorities. Reporting to the enforcement body is usually assigned to an individual such as a health and safety specialist or senior manager. It is important that all employees, especially those who will have a role in reporting and investigating, know what a near miss is and are made aware of the reporting process. This can be done by providing adequate training and information. Both managers and their team members will need to receive training so that they understand their roles and responsibilities. The type and level of depth of the training will depend on the work environment, whether it is in an office setting or within the industry.
Here at Human Focus, we split the learning into two parts: what everyone needs to know and what managers specifically need to know. This is to capture the differing responsibilities of both management and employees.
Why Near Miss Reporting is Important in the UK?
Reporting near misses embraces proactive safety and enables organisations to prevent unwanted events from happening, which is the end goal.
The safety of workers is taken very seriously in the UK and therefore it is important the everything possible is done to prevent harm to the working population. Reporting on the things that could have caused harm is crucial when collating information on how workplace accidents and incidents affect the national workforce. It enables the enforcing body to identify trends and gather statistical information. Where incidents are seen to be frequently occurring on a national scale, appropriate action can be taken and guidance given to employers.
How Do Near Miss Reporting Systems Routinely Fail?
Near miss incidents can often go unreported in the workplace. This is because many workers believe that where there is no harm to people or property there is no reason to report. However, to prevent accidents that do end in harm it is vital to report near misses.
Why is it Important to Report Accidents and Near Misses?
Imagine sitting in a boardroom during a meeting and a light fitting falls from the ceiling. Fortunately, it narrowly misses you. The fitting is cleared from the boardroom table and placed on the side so that the meeting can resume. Afterward nothing more is done; the incident is forgotten. The following day the boardroom is used again and another light fitting falls from the ceiling but this time it hits the person seated below it, causing an injury. If the first incident, which will be classed as a near miss, was initially reported, the relevant personnel would have been able to carry out an investigation into why the light fitting became loose and fell from the ceiling, implemented a repair, and checked all of the other light fittings to ensure they were suitably fitted and would not harm anyone. This scenario shows the importance of near miss reporting. Making the report would have prevented injury, which could lead to time off work and in some cases a personal injury claim.
How to Get Employees to Report Near Misses?
In order for a near miss reporting procedure to work everyone needs to be on board. As near misses do not result in injury or ill health, employees may not feel that a report is necessary. Training them on what a near miss is as well as the importance of reporting these incidents and educating them on the root causes of accidents is key to ensuring that such events are not merely brushed away as a lucky escape. Driving home the consequences of not reporting – the potential for serious accidents to occur, and the benefits of reporting is another way to ensure employees report near misses. Lastly, employee involvement in workplace health and safety near miss reporting is key to making workers feel empowered, which in turn can boost safety culture.