An employee walks down the hall, stepping over an extension cord stretched across his path. He turns a corner and nearly collides with another worker. To avoid the collision, he steps to the side, spilling coffee onto the floor and inadvertently jostling a shelving unit, on which a tool placed close to the edge of the top shelf falls and hits the ground.
No one is hurt in this fictional scenario. However, the employees in it experience multiple near-miss situations – any one of which could have led to a serious injury.
Identifying and investigating near-misses is a key element to finding and controlling risks before workers are injured. The information gathered through near-miss reporting is evaluated to determine root causes and hazard mitigation strategies. “Lessons learned” are shared in a general way (you are not identified) so all employees can benefit from the findings and your near-miss does not turn into someone else’s injury! Near-miss reporting is vitally important in preventing serious incidents that are less frequent but more harmful than near-misses.
Many safety activities are reactive, that is, they occur after an injury incident. By reporting near-miss incidents you can promote proactive safety.