5th October, 2023

5 Reasons Why It's Important To Report A Near Miss At Work

Reporting a near miss might not seem as important as reporting an accident. But it is, even if you didn't get hurt. Here are 5 reasons reporting a near miss is an important, even essential, part of accident prevention.

5 Reasons Why It's Important To Report A Near Miss At Work header image

If you had a near-miss at work, you had a lucky escape. It's the definition of a near-miss that you didn't get hurt. And that's a good thing!

near miss: an event not causing harm, but has the potential to cause injury or ill health

But after thanking your lucky stars that neither you nor anyone else was injured, what should you do next?

Report it!

Whether the near miss happened to you, or if you saw it happen to someone else, you should report it.

Yes, it might take a little bit of time. You might need to fill in a near miss report form. And sure, paperwork isn't fun. But near miss reporting is important, and here are 5 reasons why:

1. You can stop an accident

It's just as important to report a near miss as it is to report an accident, even if you didn't get hurt. In fact, reporting your near miss today might stop you from having to report an accident tomorrow.

accident at work

It might seem like you can move on from a near miss without further action, but what about next time?

If nothing changes, could those same circumstances happen again? Well, nothing has changed, so yes - they could.

And next time, could someone get hurt? It's estimated that for every 600 near misses, you might get 30 minor and 10 major accidents.

near miss triangle

Since it was a lucky escape this time, it's fair to say that someone could get hurt the next time.

Maybe something fell from an overhead platform, and you were walking below. It didn't hit you, but it could have - if you had been two steps behind.

Phew! Close shave!

But what if something falls again tomorrow? And this time, someone is underneath it? They might get really hurt.

So, it might seem like you can move on from a near miss without further action, but just because you were lucky this time doesn't mean you will be so lucky next time.

Or maybe it won't happen again to you. But what about someone else?

Here are 5 examples of how near miss reporting can stop accidents.

2. You can let people know about the problem

If you don't report the near miss, how will anyone know about the problem?

They won't know:

As we have just discussed, someone could get hurt if the same event happens again.

But if no one else even knows the near miss happened, and they don't know the basic facts about it, how can they stop it from happening again?

By reporting the near miss, you are making this information known, and alerting your team to the problem.

3. You can help fix the problem

You saw the near miss. Maybe you were involved, or maybe you were just a witness.

You shouldn't feel reluctant to come forward with information because a good near miss procedure should be penalty-free. It's not a blame game.

You can help to fix the problem.

What happened, and how did it happen? What could be changed to stop it happening again? Could a safety measure be added?

workers at height on scaffolding

Going back to our earlier example of something falling from an overhead platform - you might think barriers or debris netting would be a good idea. Or maybe an exclusion zone when people are working overhead?

Your ideas could help fix the problem and make your workplace safer.

4. You can see patterns

Your near miss report alone might not seem that important (although we've already discussed three benefits that hopefully already changed your mind!).

But what if the business gets 5 near miss reports for the same type of near miss? Then they know they have a problem with a specific activity.

Or what if they get several near miss reports for one specific location? Then management can identify that location as needing some extra attention. Maybe they can do a health and safety audit and check what's going wrong.

Remember the near miss triangle from earlier?

near miss triangle

Wouldn't it be good if your near miss report identified a problem on the first, second, or third occurrence - before anyone gets hurt?

But if you didn't report it, the pattern wouldn't be seen, and the first time the problem would be noticed is when an accident happens. And it might appear to come out of the blue.

Near miss reporting can reduce the unexpected, by revealing patterns in problem areas.

Once everyone in the workplace is following the near miss reporting procedure, patterns will start to emerge from the data gathered, and that's great for the business because managers can prioritise the most urgent/frequent near misses, and take action.

5. You can do better next time

A near miss is usually a sign that something is wrong.

A hazard has developed or got missed. Or a risk needs to be better controlled. Or maybe something is broken, or not working as it should be.

Thanks to your near miss report, maybe next time your workplace will be safer. All because:

equipment inspection

Near miss reporting is a team effort.

You need people to report a near miss. And you need people to take action to prevent the near miss from happening again.

Of course, you're only responsible for reporting the near miss, so maybe you can't take full credit for resolving the issue. But you can take comfort in knowing that unless you reported the issue, the issue could not have been identified, and no action would have been taken.

And that's why it's important to report a near miss at work.

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This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.

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