Near Miss Accidents

The common term is "Near Miss Accident" but a more accurate term would be "near Hit Accident" in safety industry speak, a near miss is an accident that almost happened.

Suppose you are late for an appointment. You are in your car. The car is in reverse and you are about to back out of the driveway. Suddenly in your rear view mirror you notice an unfamiliar child's toy lying in the driveway. As a precaution you get out to check and find the neighbors toddler sitting in the driveway behind your car. What you have experienced is a "Near Miss Accident". You have learned a lesson that should last you a lifetime. You will probably take some serious action and develop good habits to prevent an actual accident of that type from ever happening. In an industrial or construction environment similar scenarios go un-noticed at an alarming rate. All of us have heard statements similar to these:
* It's a good thing no one was around.
* One more inch and he would have had me.
* Good thing we checked for power.
* Watch for that hole! I almost fell in.
* That's why we wear hardhats.
* That thing should have been taken off the job.
All of these statements represent a near miss accident and a potential for loss of property or life. Each of them should have prompted some investigation and follow up action to avoid a future accident.

The same things that cause accidents cause near misses. Labor statistics report a near miss to accident ratio of about 300:1 some estimates are as low as 200:1. The actual ratio depends upon the type of industry and activity. The numbers are only estimates based on incidents reported and in reality the ratios are probably lower in some industries.

Virtually all accidents are preceded by a chain of events or circumstances that would have warned of a potential for danger. Astute supervisors and managers always encourage employees to report all potential safety hazards and near miss accidents. Each report should be taken seriously, investigated thoroughly and preventative action taken.

Every business, regardless of size should have a procedure for reporting and correcting potential safety hazards and near misses. A standard form should be used to insure that the procedure is correctly followed and that concerned individuals at the top levels are informed.

Hazard and near miss follow up procedure elements should include:
* The employee's description of the circumstance or incident
* An investigation report,
* Recommendations for correction
* A report of appropriate actions taken.
* Final approval sign-off by a responsible person.

Near misses are warnings of potential things to come but they don't have to be the harbinger of doom and destruction. If you take them seriously and learn from them you will improve your chances of having a safe and rewarding experience on the job and in your personal live as well.