If an accident at your worksite causes a serious injury, you’re certain to hear about it. Unfortunately, at that point it’s too late to do anything but react. If you want to get a handle on hazards before someone gets hurt, you need workers to understand, report, and investigate near misses.
Do your workers know to immediately report near misses to their supervisor? And that the purpose of such reporting is to prevent more serious incidents, not to assign blame?
Here’s a checklist of additional questions to help you use near misses to identify and address hazards proactively.
Do workers reporting a near miss immediately complete a reporting form that captures:
- The job task that was being performed at the time of the incident?
- What happened?
- Where and when it happened?
- The equipment or material involved?
- The individuals who were present?
A near-miss investigation should try to identify all factors that were involved in the incident, including (but not limited to):
- Equipment malfunction or failure
- Equipment in need of repair or maintenance
- Facility factors, like poor visibility, damaged walking/working surfaces, or slip-and-trip hazards
- Operator error
- Unauthorized personnel in a work area or performing a job task
- Production pressures
- Failure to take time to do the job properly
- Failure to inspect equipment or missed inspection items
- Lack of training
A near-miss investigation should also note:
- Any warning signs observed before the incident
- The consequences
- What the consequences might have been, including property damage, injury to workers, coworkers, or members of the public
To prevent future incidents, workers and supervisors should brainstorm:
- Engineering interventions, such as additional guards, repairs and maintenance, stronger materials (for example, ropes and connectors), ventilation, fire prevention, and similar passive devices;
- Work practice controls like written safe work practices, permit procedures, or inspection requirements;
- Training interventions that identify the hazard, safe work practices, and other valuable information; and
- Personal protective equipment that could minimize the risk to workers.