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Less and Less Near-Misses

We target zero-injuries by using one of the long standing leading indicators for a safe workplace, near-miss reports. I’ve seen near-misses that report someone being hit in the hard hat by a falling tool – near-miss or direct hit? Another is forgetting to click into the attachment point with fall protection – near-miss or human error? In the case of near-miss reports you will find that some say yes to a report while others say, I don’t think so. Both however tell us a story about the level of risk found in the workplace.

Seeing Risk Should Result in Less and Less Near-Misses Reported

Reducing the risk is the intent of reporting a near-miss. But what if I don’t have a near-miss to report because I don’t work below others, therefore the falling tool is not a hazard. What if I have to be below the workers above me but a barricade is employed or during our job planning everyone is committed to using secured tools. In both cases the hazard is mitigated and risk is reduced. Hazard avoided… no near-miss report.

In the case of not being clipped in, the worker not remembering to “clip-in” might also say, “I forgot to put my underwear on the morning.” (I am sure someone reading this will say, “I go commando” …please don’t say it out loud.) The point is that when you value being properly secured to prevent a fall and if the team your working with has the same values it’s likely that you will not forget or someone around you is going to speak up and say, “Hey buddy, clip in.” Your response should be, thank you.

My point is that if you are properly focused on safety, quality, and then production, not to mention taking your time to practiced hazard mitigation you are likely going to have less near-miss reports. Shouldn’t that be the goal? Less and less near misses?

An injury-free workplace is not one of “safety by chance.” It is a workplace and worksites where attention is focused on recognizing, evaluating, and applying controls to a hazard that reduces the risk of an event happening. In my work I have seen worksites where you could lay odds that someone was going to get hurt, maimed, or killed because the attitude towards injuries was a crap-shoot because workers did not “see” the risk. Others seem to understand the risk and take action to reduce the risk because it is real to them.

If you want to see zero-injuries in your workplace then begin with worksite safety analysis. Identify what “could happen, then apply the proper mitigation to reduce the risk. Seeing the risk can lead to less near-miss reporting because near-misses are avoided. Avoid near-misses by “seeing” the risk and you will create a workplace where it is difficult to get hurt.


Carl Potter is an independent safety professional who observers, evaluates, and speaks. He has the unique ability to connect at all levels of organizations to help his clients move forward to improve their safety culture. Carl is available to help you assess “where you are” and what the barriers are to “where you want to be” with your safety culture. When he presents his findings and recommendations all levels of the organization will be challenged all levels to take safety to the next level. Many organizations trust his insights to attain, maintain, and sustain their workplace safety goals. Email Carl today and schedule a call with him to see if his services are right for your organization:

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