In the workplace, the safety of the staff should be the most important priority that a business assesses itself on. The fact of the matter is, accidents happen, no matter how much you can try to prevent them. Having the best procedures out there to reduce the chances of accidents is the best way forward, but sometimes opportunities to tighten up safety don’t present themselves until an accident happens – that’s why every business should have an accident book to document any misfortunes that happen and prevent them from happening in the future.

What is also important for this accident book, is that the accidents that almost happen but thankfully don’t are recorded as well. Experts in workplace safety Kays Medical have drawn up a useful summary of the importance of documenting the near-miss accidents in the workplace for you here.

Defining a Near Miss

Just as an accident is an unplanned event that can result in injury to the person or damage to the workplace, a near-miss accident is an unplanned event that had potential to cause injury or damage but thankfully didn’t. It is important to remember that though these events did not result in injury this time, it would be foolish to label this as a ‘one-off’ as there is always more you can do in the workplace to improve safety.

What is the Point in Documenting Near Misses?

Many take the approach that improvement of safety in the workplace must be reactive, whereby you don’t alter any of your safety standards till after an accident happens – but this should not be the case. The best workplaces are proactive when it comes to their safety procedures, spotting a potential problem early and putting measures in place to stop it happening – a near miss is about as good as an indicator of a potential problem that you’re ever going to get.

How to Set Up a Near Miss Reporting Procedure

What is crucial to this is creating a culture whereby your staff aren’t sheepish about recording these near misses. This may be the case for several reasons, such as fear of punishment or thinking of the event as insignificant, but you must do everything you can to bring them onto the same page as you. Letting people report these almost-accidents anonymously is beneficial to everyone.  

Another key point to be made here is to make the actual task of filling out a near-miss report as simple as possible. If your staff must fill out tons of complex paperwork on top of completing their actual jobs you’ll soon discover that they simply won’t bother. Make the process as streamlined and simple as possible to ensure it gets done.

Once these incidents are recorded it is down to the safety assessor to figure out the root causes of the problem and then fixing them once and for all. Safety is everybody’s priority so it is critical that staff are properly trained and given regular feedback when it comes to how they perform their job. 

Published by Maria Simpson