Near Miss Meaning & Definition | EcoOnline
Health & Safety Glossary

Near Miss

A near miss is a potential accident narrowly avoided, highlighting safety risks.


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What Is a Near Miss?

A near miss is defined by the HSE as any event that doesn’t lead to harm but does have the potential to cause illness or injury. The term “dangerous occurrences” is also included in “near miss,” as specified in RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013). There is a legal obligation for organizations to report near misses under RIDDOR.

Simply put, a near miss is any unplanned event that could’ve caused physical injury or property loss but didn’t. A common example of a near miss is a worker slipping on a wet floor with no sign, but not falling. 

The incident reporting procedure in most organizations should record the following:

  • Unplanned events
  • Near misses
  • Awareness events
  • Adverse occurrences


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Near Miss Warning Symbol



Identifying and Reporting Near Misses

Near misses are common in all types of organizations, regardless of the industry or size. Instead of waiting for an accident to occur, organizations must review near misses and take pre-emptive action.

The criteria for identifying a near miss and comparing it with other workplace incidents often seems confusing. However, to determine if an event was a near miss or a workplace incident, you can use the following criteria:

  • Was the event unplanned? 
  • Did it result in injury?
  • Would someone have sustained injuries if the conditions were only slightly different? For instance, if the person moved to one side by just a few inches, would they have suffered injuries?

It’s important to understand that all events in the workplace can be classified as incidents. However, not every incident is a near miss or an accident.

Thus, when near misses are identified, they must be reported. This is a common method for mitigating risk in the organization, as they’re often an indicator that a problem exists. 

Near misses simply indicate that the workplace safety measures can be improved. It shows that the organization isn’t suitably controlling risk within the workplace, and measures must be taken to improve conditions. 

The Importance of Investigating Near Misses

Just because no one got hurt doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t investigate near misses. Near miss reporting allows organizations to identify issues that could eventually lead to a major accident, and take action before something goes majorly wrong. 

It is important to foster a culture of near miss reporting. Once the supervisor or manager receives a report of a near miss, they must look into the issue and identify the reason why the near miss occurred. Was it due to lax safety measures? Or was it an employee mistake?

Investigating near misses is important as it improves health and safety in the workplace and helps managers understand how they can improve health and safety controls in the workplace.

When a near miss is reported, it’s important for managers and supervisors to investigate the cause. Blaming someone for a near miss is never appropriate. Workers that report near misses are trying to involve themselves into creating a better health and safety culture, so it should be encouraged. 

The Many Advantages of Reporting Near Misses

There are several advantages of regularly reporting near misses. Some of these are discussed below.

Identifying Health and Safety Issues and Key Patterns

Near miss reporting can help managers and supervisors identify systemic issues that affect the health and safety of employees. By carefully analyzing the frequency and similarity between different reports, they can then identify key patterns and trends. 

Improve Health and Safety Culture Throughout the Organization

Near miss reporting can help organizations improve the overall health and safety culture within the organization. Employees are encouraged to report near misses and give suggestions, which ensures that employees take health and safety concerns seriously.

More importantly, when preparing training sessions regarding employee health and safety, the organization can factor in these suggestions to improve the level of training as a whole. Employees are encouraged to comply with health and safety policies, which ultimately reduces the number of workplace incidents. 

Reduces Workplace Risks and Hazards

Near miss reporting allows managers and supervisors to identify risks and hazards, even the less obvious ones. For instance, simple steps, like moving tools such as hammers from the top shelves to bottom rows, can reduce risks in a facility. 

This greatly helps organizations reduce workplace risks and health hazards, which ultimately means greater time and monetary savings for the company. Ultimately, the amount and frequency of workplace incidents also decreases. 

Near Miss vs. Hazards vs. Accidents

There is often a confusion between the terms near misses, hazards, and accidents. A near miss is a workplace incident where someone narrowly escaped injury. Here’s a brief explanation of what constitutes a hazard or an accident in the workplace. 


A hazard is quite similar to a near miss as both near misses and hazards don’t result in an injury. However, the distinction is simple: if you notice something that could lead to an accident but hasn’t resulted in a close shave or almost caused any property damage, it’s a hazard. 

For example, a person working at heights without a helmet is a hazard. However, if that person almost falls without wearing a helmet, it would be a near miss. 


Workplace accidents, on the other hand, are incidents that result in bodily harm, which could sometimes prove to be fatal. A comprehensive investigation is necessary to identify the cause of the accident, and proper safety measures must be taken to mitigate the risk of accidents as much as possible.


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Improve Incident Reporting with EcoOnline

EcoOnline’s Incident Reporting Software can capture and manage any reported incidents. Near miss reporting is often confusing, especially if the forms are a bit complex. With EcoOnline’s software, incidents can be reported on any device, which improves employee engagement and helps foster a safety culture in the workplace. 

There are ready-made templates available that you can choose to use, or you can also create your own reporting forms. The platform helps you visualize data in pristine detail, allowing you to investigate each incident closely.