Near-miss reporting 2

I recently read a very good article on near miss reporting that I thought some of the highlights were worthy of passing along.

Top 10 Barriers to Near-Miss Reporting

It’s a given that reporting of near misses reduces injury incidents. A report of a near miss (close call) creates an opportunity for identifying and removing hazardous conditions and work practices.

Then why is it so difficult to get your people to report near misses? Maybe they are discouraged by one of these common barriers:

  1. They don’t know they are supposed to report near misses.
  2. They don’t know how to go about it. They don’t know they should go to the supervisor.
  3. They are afraid of being reprimanded or disciplined for actions that led to the incident.
  4. They feel pressure from co-workers to keep quiet so nobody gets into trouble.
  5. They are under pressure to maintain a clean incident record because the team will win a prize.
  6. They are new and want to make a good impression.
  7. The work culture says “suck it up and don’t make a big deal out of it.”
  8. Co-workers are viewing the incident with humor instead of seeing the hazard. If everyone is laughing, how serious could it be?
  9. Last time they tried to talk to the supervisor about something, they were belittled or disregarded.
  10. It’s just too much trouble filling out those forms.  –

So you might say that why should we force the issue if there are so many barriers?

When you look at a Risk based approach to near miss you will find that a near miss is a

  1. Zero-cost learning tool– we learn more from a greater number of near misses occurring around us.
  2. Immense opportunity for staff involvement- a basic requirement for a successful EHS program by embodying principles of behaviour shift, responsibility sharing, awareness and incentives, etc.

A successful program will contain

  • Participative management; spending time and money
  • Documented process
  • Innovative incentive schemes
  • Specific body to implement
  • Standard communication vehicles ( intranet/LAN/ State- of the- art software support, or just a drop box in each area of the operation.
  • A simple definition of a near miss
  • Reporting process
  • Screening
  • Problem analysis and solution
  • Implementation and follow up
  • Communication
  • Risk based evaluation

Further information can be obtained at Hydrocarbon Processing, Oct 2002 article by Ujwal Ritwik.

Pamela Cowan
Safety Specialist


  1. Pushes chair back, stands and applauds. We are seeing good work being done on pointing out dangers in the workplace but I think the idea of “dangerous occurrence”/near misses/ reporting is underdone. It’s curious really. The near miss is a gift in so many ways. And absolutely roger on that point Pamela that the definition of a near miss has to be simple. It has to be said that legislative definitions don’t really help much. My advice to punters is to encourage and have a system where it only needs a worker to go “Ooops” or “Phew, that was dodgy” to warrant a report of a near miss report. I try and encourage a brain-storming approach: the first response is given complete legitimacy and it’s not judged. The deliberative processes come after the “Ooops” or “Phew” is recorded.

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